UC Davis Agricultural and Resource Economics

Dominique van de Walle

Nutrition, Religion, and Widowhood in Nigeria

Date and Location

Tuesday, February 26, 2019, 4:10 PM - 5:30 PM
ARE Library Conference Room, 4101 Social Sciences and Humanities

Abstract

It is known that Muslim women in Nigeria have significantly worse nutritional status than their Christian counterparts. The paper first shows that this difference is explained by covariates including geographic location, ethnicity, household wealth, and women’s education. However, on accounting for observable characteristics, Muslim widows enjoy a higher nutritional status than Christian widows, particularly in rural areas. The patterns are robust to including village fixed effects and are confirmed for mixed religion ethnic groups. The data are consistent with more favorable processes following widowhood among Muslims, namely inheritance practices and remarriage options. Data on inheritance and violence patterns by religion confirm that Muslim widows are significantly less likely to be dispossessed of their late husband’s property or to be mistreated upon widowhood by in-laws. Muslim women are more likely to be chronically undernourished but less nutritionally vulnerable to this marital shock.

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