Heather Congdon Fors (), Ann-Sofie Isaksson () and Lindskog Annika ()
Heather Congdon Fors: Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University, Postal: P.O. Box 640, SE 40530 GÖTEBORG, Sweden
Ann-Sofie Isaksson: Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University, Postal: P.O. Box 640, SE 40530 GÖTEBORG, Sweden
Lindskog Annika: Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University, Postal: P.O. Box 640, SE 40530 GÖTEBORG, Sweden
Abstract: This paper investigates the long-run impacts of Christian missionary expansion on the practice of female genital cutting (FGC) in sub-Saharan Africa. The empirical analysis draws on historical data on the locations of early European missions geographically matched with Demographic and Health Survey data on FGC practices of around 410,000 respondents from 42 surveys performed over a 30-year period (1990-2020) in 14 African countries. The results suggest that historical Christian missions have impacted FGC practices today. The benchmark estimates imply that a person living 10 km from a historical mission is 4-6 percentage points less likely to have undergone FGC than someone living 100 km from a mission site. Similarly, having one more mission per 1000 km2 in one’s ancestral ethnic homeland decreases the probability of having undergone FGC by around 8 percentage points. The effect is robust across a large number of specifications and control variables, both modern and historic. We use ethnographic data on pre-colonial FGC to show that the location of missions was not correlated with the practice of FGC in the local population.
23 pages, March 2023
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