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Missing Women and India’s Religious Demography
Authors: Sriya Iyer, and Shareen Joshi
Source: Journal of South Asian Development , vol. 8, no. 3, 301-331.
Topic(s): Fertility
Fertility preferences
Infant mortality
Sex preference
Country: Asia
Published: DEC 2013
Abstract: This article explores the relationship between religion, caste, infant mortality and fertility across Hindus and Muslims in India using recent data from the 2006 National Family Health Survey. The analysis shows that Muslims exhibit lower infant mortality rates relative to Hindus, and that this difference is not adequately explained by socio-economic status, location and policy variables. We argue that the combination of gender preference and heterogeneity in desired fertility across religious groups offers one potential explanation for the observed differences in mortality rates. Our data support this view; the difference in infant mortality between Muslims and Hindus is concentrated at higher birth order and among girls, irrespective of their birth order. We also show that there are differences in mortality between lower-caste Hindus and higher caste Hindus in our sample. Keywords: Religion, infant mortality, desired versus realized fertility, sex ratio, gender bias