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Voodoo, Vaccines and Bed Nets

Nik Stoop (), Marijke Verpoorten and Koen Deconinck

LICOS Discussion Papers from LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven

Abstract: We provide the first quantitative analysis to scrutinize the ample ethnographic evidence that magico-religious beliefs affect the demand for conventional healthcare in Sub-Saharan Africa. We rely on the unique case of Benin, where Voodoo-adherence is freely reported, and varies greatly within villages and even within households, yet can be traced to historic events that are arguably exogenous to present-day healthcare behavior. These features allow us to account for confounding village- and household-factors, and address self-selection into Voodoo. We find that Voodoo adherence of the mother is associated with lower uptake of preventive healthcare measures and worse child health outcomes, a relationship that weakens but remains when controlling for village dummies and a large set of observables. We employ three different strategies to test for the potential influence of unobservables. The results suggest that the estimated Voodoo-effects are partly causal. A tentative exploration of the causal mechanisms suggests a mediating role of traditional healers.

Date: 2017
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-dev and nep-evo
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Citations: View citations in EconPapers (1)

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Journal Article: Voodoo, Vaccines, and Bed Nets (2019) Downloads
Working Paper: Voodoo, vaccines and bed nets (2017) Downloads
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