Religious affiliation and under-five mortality in mozambique

Boaventura M. Cau, Arusyak Sevoyan, Victor Agadjanian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The influence of religion on health remains a subject of considerable debate both in developed and developing settings. This study examines the connection between the religious affiliation of the mother and under-five mortality in Mozambique. It uses unique retrospective survey data collected in a predominantly Christian area in Mozambique to compare under-five mortality between children of women affiliated to organized religion and children of non-affiliated women. It finds that mother's affiliation to any religious organization, as compared with non-affiliation, has a significant positive effect on child survival net of education and other socio-demographic factors. When the effects of affiliation to specific denominational groups are examined, only affiliation to the Catholic or mainstream Protestant churches and affiliation to Apostolic churches are significantly associated with improved child survival. It is argued that the advantages of these groups may be achieved through different mechanisms: the favourable effect on child survival of having mothers affiliated to the Catholic or mainstream Protestant churches is probably due to these churches' stronger connections to the health sector, while the beneficial effect of having an Apostolic mother is probably related to strong social ties and mutual support in Apostolic congregations. The findings thus shed light on multiple pathways through which organized religion can affect child health and survival in sub-Saharan Africa and similar developing settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)415-429
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Biosocial Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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