The Impact of Legislation on the Hazard of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from Burkina Faso - Working Paper 432

In 1996, Burkina Faso enacted legislation banning the practice of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C). Much of the qualitative literature surrounding FGM/C discounts the impact of legal change on what is considered a social/cultural issue. We use data from the Demographic and Health Surveys DHS(VI) in Burkina Faso to test for a discontinuous change in the likelihood of being cut in the year the law was passed. We find robust evidence for a substantial drop in hazard rates in 1996 and investigate the heterogeneous impact of the law by region, religion, and ethnicity. Overall, we roughly estimate that over a ten year period the law averted the genital mutilation/cutting of approximately 237,591 women and girls. We qualify our findings recognizing that Burkina Faso is a special case with a long history of bottom-up and top-down approaches to eliminating the practice.

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