Voodoo, vaccines and bed nets. Magicoreligious beliefs affect health behavior in Benin

Marijke Verpoorten and Nik Stoop
Analysis and Policy Brief 29

There is ample ethnographic evidence that magicoreligious beliefs affect the demand for conventional healthcare in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

But, because of severe empirical limitations (see box 1), this relationship was not documented in a quantitative way. Thanks to the unique status and well-documented history of Voodoo (see box 2) – Benin’s main African Traditional Religion (ATR) – we managed to document this relationship for Benin.

In our recent article, we find quantitative evidence that Voodoo adherence is associated with lower uptake of preventive healthcare measures. Instead, Voodoo adherents rely more on traditional healers, but this leads to worse child health outcomes. 

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