Islamic Law and Child Outcomes: Evidence from the Sharia Introduction in Nigeria

Economics

Speaker:Marco Alfano, UCL
Date: Wednesday 7 October 2015
Time: 13.30
Location: Streatham Court B

Further details

Islamic law lays down detailed rules regulating the upbringing of children. This study examines the effect of these rules on child outcomes by exploiting an unique natural experiment: the introduction of the Sharia in northern Nigeria. Regression discontinuity estimates that compare women living in the historical homeland of the same ethnicity but a short distance either side of the border show a positive effect of the Sharia on fertility and the duration of breastfeeding. Evidence on labour market participation further suggests that women combined the increased child care responsibilities with higher home employment. Moreover, survival histories show that the Sharia had no effect on the survival of newly born children. By contrast, the Sharia decreased the survival chances of children aged between 1 and 4 at its introduction.