NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Neighborhood Sanitation and Infant Mortality

Michael Geruso, Dean Spears

NBER Working Paper No. 21184
Issued in May 2015
NBER Program(s):   CH   DEV   HE   PE

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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This paper was revised on May 19, 2017

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w21184

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