Religion and Sanitation Practices

29 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2020

See all articles by Anjali Adukia

Anjali Adukia

University of Chicago

Marcella Alsan

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Jeremy D. Goldhaber-Fiebert

Stanford University - Department of Medicine

Lea Prince

Stanford University

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Date Written: January 29, 2020


Infant mortality among Hindus is higher than among Muslims in India, and religious differences in sanitation practices have been cited as a contributing factor. To explore whether religion itself is associated with differences in sanitation practices, this study compares sanitation practices of Hindus and Muslims living in the same locations using three nationally-representative data sets from India. Across all three data sets, the unconditional religion-specific gap in latrine ownership and latrine use declines by approximately two-thirds when conditioning on location characteristics or including location fixed effects. Further, the estimates do not show evidence of religion-specific differences in other sanitation practices, such as handwashing or observed fecal material near homes. Household sanitation practices vary substantially across areas of India, but religion itself has less direct influence when considering differences between Hindus and Muslims within the same location.

Suggested Citation

Adukia, Anjali and Alsan, Marcella and Goldhaber-Fiebert, Jeremy D. and Prince, Lea, Religion and Sanitation Practices (January 29, 2020). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 9131, Available at SSRN:

Anjali Adukia (Contact Author)

University of Chicago ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States


Marcella Alsan

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Jeremy D. Goldhaber-Fiebert

Stanford University - Department of Medicine ( email )

Stanford, CA
United States

Lea Prince

Stanford University

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

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