The socioeconomic status of Indian Muslims is, on average, considerably lower than that of upper-caste Hindus. Muslims nevertheless exhibit substantially higher child survival rates, and have done for decades. This paper analyses this seeming puzzle. A decomposition of the survival differential confirms that some compositional effects favour Muslims but that, overall, differences in characteristics and especially the Muslim deficit in parental education predict a Muslim disadvantage. The results of this study contribute to a recent literature that debates the importance of socioeconomic status (SES) in determining health and survival. They augment a growing literature on the role of religion or culture as encapsulating important unobservable behaviours or endowments that influence health, indeed, enough to reverse the SES gradient that is commonly observed.
|Journal||Journal of Health Economics|
|Publication status||Published - 2010|