Religion, family structure, and the perpetuation of female genital cutting in Egypt

Lisa Blaydes, Melina R. Platas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


How are harmful social practices brought to an end? Female genital cutting (FGC) is extremely common among ever-married women in Egypt, but the practice has declined among younger women and girls. While much of the recent literature on abatement of FGC has focused on individual-level determinants of a mother's choice to circumcise her daughters, we focus on meso-level factors, particularly norm change within religious communities and attitude formation within families. We find differential FGC trends across Muslim and Coptic Christian communities as well as an effect of the gender of a woman's first-born child-An exogenous variable in Egypt where pre-natal sex selection is rare-on attitudes toward FGC. The effect of the first-born gender varies by religion and birth cohort, however, suggesting ways in which meso-level factors interact to impact women's attitudes and associated FGC outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)305-328
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Demographic Economics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • Family structure
  • genital cutting
  • religion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Economics and Econometrics


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