Infant Mortality and Mother’s Religious Involvement in Brazil

Ana Paula A. Verona, University of Texas at Austin
Cláudio S. Dias Júnior, Federal University of Minas Gerais - Brazil

Although several variables have been recognized as determinants of infant mortality in Brazil, almost no attention has been given to the implications of religion involvement for this phenomenon. This paper helps to fill this gap employing data from the 1996 Brazil Demographic Health Survey and a Cox proportional hazards model to examine the potential association between infant morality and mother’s religious involvement, as measured by religious affiliation and service attendance. Unadjusted results show that differences in the hazard ratios of infant mortality by mother’s religious involvement are large in magnitude and statistically significant. When controlling for demographic and socioeconomic variables, the baseline relationship disappears, supporting the selectivity hypothesis. Based on our quantitative results and using available ethnographic evidence, we conclude by suggesting that Protestantism and attendance at religious services may be indirectly associated with infant mortality through mediating factors, such as marriage and the age at first child.

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Presented in Session 35: Demographic Perspectives on Religion