Christian-Muslim differences in child survival in Egypt

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Ethnic and religious inequalities in child survival have been documented in many countries. In Egypt, during the 1980s and 1990s, Christians had higher childhood mortality than Muslims despite their higher socio-economic status (SES) and concentration in urban areas. This paper explores reasons for this Christian-Muslim mortality gap. Data for this study are drawn from Egypt's 1988, 1992, 1995, 2005 and 2008 Demographic and Health Surveys, which recorded the respondents' religious affiliation. The main analysis compares children of Christian and Muslim mothers in survival to age five using proportional hazards Cox regression models. Results indicate that differences in the regional distributions of Christians and Muslims positively contributed to the mortality gap during the 1980s-1990s. The majority of Christians resided in Upper Egypt where childhood mortality rates were considerably higher than in other regions. However, only part of higher Christian mortality can be explained by their regional concentration. In Upper Egypt, despite their higher SES, as well as greater urban residence, Christians had higher mortality than Muslims. These findings are at odds with research demonstrating the significance of SES and urban concentration in explaining ethnic-religious mortality gaps.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-267
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Population Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Copts
  • Egypt
  • Infant mortality
  • Religious mortality gaps

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography


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