Anthropometric Failure and Persistence of Poverty in Rural India

Raghav Gaiha, University of Delhi
Veena Kulkarni, University of Maryland

Recent studies with regard to the high prevalence of stunting among children in rural India point to more pervasive deprivation than conventional measures of poverty based on income or consumption expenditure shortfalls imply. Since stunting reflects cumulative nutritional and health deprivation, it is likely to persist despite higher incomes. The present analysis of the determinants of stunting based on a recent all-India survey of rural households finds that while income matters, other factors acting independently of it matter too like household size, whether household head is male, caste affiliation, mother's age at marriage, mother's age, age composition of children, male-female wage differences, hygiene and sanitation facilities, and prices of food items. So, while higher incomes will help mitigate stunting, careful attention must also be given to enhancing women's autonomy through more remunerative employment opportunities, enabling households to improve hygiene and sanitation facilities, and facilitating more competitive local markets for food.

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Presented in Session 103: Contextual Effects on Health and Mortality in India