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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