Discussion paper

DP16604 Religion and Abortion: The Role of Politician Identity

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.


Bhalotra, S, I Clots Figueras and L Iyer (2021), ‘DP16604 Religion and Abortion: The Role of Politician Identity‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 16604. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp16604