Neighborhood Sanitation and Infant Mortality
75 Pages Posted: 18 May 2015 Last revised: 21 May 2021
Date Written: May 2015
In this paper, we shed new light on a long-standing puzzle: In India, Muslim children are substantially more likely than Hindu children to survive to their first birthday, even though Indian Muslims have lower wealth, consumption, educational attainment, and access to state services. Contrary to the prior literature, we show that the observed mortality advantage accrues not to Muslim households themselves but rather to their neighbors, who are also likely to be Muslim. Investigating mechanisms, we provide a collage of evidence suggesting externalities due to poor sanitation are a channel linking the religious composition of neighborhoods to infant mortality.
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