Context or Women’s Religious Disempowerment: Explaining Muslim and Non-Muslim Differences in Child Health Outcomes in India

Sangeeta Parashar, Montclair State University
Tannistha Samanta, University of Maryland

Although post-ICPD discourse highlighted women’s empowerment as a means of demographic change, there is increasing anxiety over a diminishing welfare state and an overemphasis on individual responsibility. This is especially relevant in politicized discussions about religion and child health outcomes among Muslims in India, that tend to focus on individual-level explanations suggesting the restrictive nature of Islam on women’s empowerment, rather than macro-level factors such as infrastructure or socioeconomic development. By using multi-level models and data from the 2005/06 India DHS and the 2005/06 IDHS, our paper will address this macro-micro debate through the following question: are Muslim/non-Muslim differences in child health outcomes reflective of group membership or the indirect effect of discrimination due to group membership? Moreover, do health differences vary from locale to locale in India and hence, must be contextualized, or are they consistent across all settings?

  See extended abstract

Presented in Session 26: Gender and Child Health Outcomes in Developing Countries