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Disparities in Child Mortality among Religious Minorities in the Districts of India

March 29, 2018

World Bank Malaysia Office, Level 3, Sasana Kijang, No. 2, Jalan Dato’ Onn

  • Little is known about the impact of the community-level presence of religious minorities on population health indicators such as child survival. This study uses survey data from India’s Third District Level Household Survey (2007-2008) to study disparities in child survival. A multivariate logistic regression with weighted state fixed-effects was applied with the dependent variable of the self-reported death of a child under five years old and indicators of health care utilization. The key independent variables were the proportions of Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, and Sikhs at the district level. The analysis controlled for generic community diversity, household religion, as well as socioeconomic status. Separate sub-group analyses focused on each group of Muslims, Christians, and Buddhists. The results show that, in an unadjusted analysis, the proportion of households that have experienced child death is 22% in the districts of India with the highest quartile of the proportion of Muslims and 17% in households with the lowest quartile of the proportion of Muslims. Multivariate fixed-effects models show that a 1% increase in the proportion of Muslims, Christians, and Buddhists is associated with respective odds ratios of child death of 1.008, 1.009, and 1.012. The impact of a generic index of religious affiliation at the household level is statistically insignificant in fixed-effects models. Higher proportions of Muslims and Christians in a community lower the odds of receiving BCG (bacille Calmette-Guerin) vaccines and seeking child health care. Households residing in communities with higher levels of religious minorities in India experience worse child survival. These effects are not mediated by the household’s own religious affiliation. There is evidence that health system performance and quality is systematically worse in communities with higher proportions of religious minorities.

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  • David Bishai

    David Bishai is the president of the International Health Economics Association and professor of health economics at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health. His research focusses on the econometric analysis of national, state, and local public health policies on population health and health disparities using time series and panel methods. He has published over 200 peer reviewed papers and keeps extensive collaborations with co-authors in China, Taiwan, Thailand, Myanmar, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Qatar, Lebanon, Iran, Uganda, Botswana, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, Italy, Switzerland, UK, and USA. He received his Ph.D. in Health Economics from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania in 1996. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and a Fellow of the American College of Physicians. In 2015 he was voted by students to receive the Golden Apple teaching award as well as awards for advising and mentoring.

event details

  • when: Thursday, March 29, 2018; 12:30-2:00PM
  • where: World Bank Malaysia Office, Level 3, Sasana Kijang, No. 2, Jalan Dato’ Onn
  • RSVP: Kindly RSVP by Wednesday, March 28, 2018