Christianity and Infant Health in India

68 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2015

See all articles by Nidhiya Menon

Nidhiya Menon

Brandeis University - International Business School

Kathleen McQueeney

Brandeis University


This paper studies child health in India focusing on differences in anthropometric outcomes between the three main religions – Hindus, Muslims and Christians. The results indicate that Christian infants have higher height-for-age z-scores as compared to infants of other religious identities, and that this is especially true for infant girls in states with a relatively large Christian presence. We instrument for Christian identity today using data on the location of Protestant and Christian missions, the incidence of epidemic diseases and natural disasters, and political crises (wars) that mission establishing countries were engaged in during India's colonial history. The results are robust to a series of checks for instrument validity and omitted variables, and indicate that by inculcating awareness and spreading knowledge on sanitation and the scientific underpinnings of disease, the advent of Christianity has long-term health implications for India's children today.

Keywords: child health, religion, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, India

JEL Classification: O12, I15, Z12

Suggested Citation

Menon, Nidhiya and McQueeney, Kathleen, Christianity and Infant Health in India. IZA Discussion Paper No. 9177, Available at SSRN:

Nidhiya Menon (Contact Author)

Brandeis University - International Business School ( email )

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Kathleen McQueeney

Brandeis University

Waltham, MA 02454
United States

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