Muslim children in India face lower mortality risks than Hindu children. This is surprising because Muslims have, on average, lower socio-economic status, higher fertility, shorter birth-spacing, lower autonomy amongst women, and are a minority group in India that, in principle, might live in areas that have poorer public provision. This project is motivated by this puzzle.
Its aims are as follows. First, it will establish the stylised facts relating to the size and persistence of the religion-differential, and its variation with age, gender, caste and birth-order. Second, it will estimate a structural model of the relationships between reproductive behaviour and child mortality by religion that isolates causal effects from unobserved heterogeneity. The observed mortality differential will be decomposed into a part that can be explained by differences in characteristics, and a residual that may be described as a "pure religion effect". Third, it will investigate whether there is evidence of social networks organised at the religion level, which may constrain the sharing of beliefs or information within groups. Fourth, it will analyse the allocation of public goods across religious groups, seeking to identify the effects of social cohesion and political representation in this process.