To address the problem of malnutrition among Indian children, it is vital to expand policies that could effectively reduce household food insecurity, show the findings of this study.
Manini Ojha, Associate Professor, Jindal School of Government and Public Policy, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India.
Gaurav Dhamija, Department of Liberal Arts, Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad, India.
Punarjit Roychowdhury, Department of Economics, Shiv Nadar University, Greater Noida, India.
Child malnutrition is remarkably high in India. The problem of food insecurity is also extremely alarming in the country. From a policy perspective, a question of paramount importance in this context is: are these two problems inter-related? Answering this question based on existing literature is difficult.
This is because literature examining specifically the effect of food insecurity on child / adolescent malnutrition in India is scarce. Besides, the small number of studies that do examine this question empirically find mixed evidence.
In light of this, here we reexamine the effect of food insecurity on child malnutrition using data from the Young Lives survey. Employing several contemporary econometric approaches, we not only estimate the mean effect but also the distributional effects of food insecurity on child malnutrition.
We find evidence of sizeable negative average effects of food insecurity on children’s anthropometric indices for nutrition surveillance including weight-for-age z score (WAZ) and height-for-age z-score (HAZ).
Further, we document important heterogeneity in the effect of food insecurity on children’s WAZ and HAZ across the outcome-distributions. Our results suggest that expansion of policies that could effectively reduce household food insecurity is vital to address the problem of malnutrition among Indian children.
Published in: The Journal of Development Studies
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