CWIP Workshop - James Fenske
Tradition and Mortality: Evidence from Twin Infanticide in Africa
Abstract: Mortality of twins relative to singletons is no greater today among African ethnicities that once practiced twin infanticide. We introduce data on historic twin infanticide and merge it with birth records from 23 African countries. We use the full sample, a border sample of adjacent societies with and without past twin infanticide, and a sample of twins. All three samples provide no evidence that past twin infanticide predicts greater differential twin mortality today. Twin infanticide and negative attitudes towards twins were suppressed by Africans, missionaries, and colonial governments. Where these channels were weak, we find evidence of greater twin mortality today.