DP16604 Religion and Abortion: The Role of Politician Identity

Author(s): Sonia Bhalotra, Irma Clots-Figueras, Lakshmi Iyer
Publication Date: October 2021
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Programme Areas: Development Economics, Political Economy
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=16604

Debates around abortion typically invoke religion and politics but there is no causal evidence of the impact of politician religion on abortion. Leveraging quasi-random variation in politician religion generated by close elections in India and controlling for the party affiliation of politicians, we find lower rates of sex-selective abortion in districts won by Muslim state legislators, consistent with a higher reported aversion to abortion among Muslims compared to Hindus. The competing hypothesis that this reflects weaker son preference among Muslims is undermined by stated preference data and by demonstrating that fertility and girl-biased infant mortality increase in Muslim-won districts.