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Demand for Nutrients in India, 1993–2004


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  • Raghav Gaiha
  • Raghbendra Jha
  • Vani S. Kulkarni


In response to the Deaton–Dreze (2009) explanation of a downward shift in the calorie Engel curve in terms of lower requirements due to health improvements and lower activity levels, we have developed an alternative explanation of changes in the consumption of calories, protein and fats over the period 1993–2004. This explanation is embedded in a standard demand theory framework, with food prices and expenditure (as a proxy for income) cast in a pivotal role. Based on different experiments, robust demand functions are estimated for each of three nutrients viz. calories, protein and fats, separately for rural and urban areas. Our results show consistently robust food price and expenditure effects. Besides, shifts in food price elasticities over time are captured. Over and above these effects, there are shifts in demands due to factors other than those specified in the demand equation. In the context of calories, for example, it is plausible that part of the reduction in their consumption was due to health improvements and less strenuous activity levels — especially but not necessarily confined to rural areas. So, while the Deaton–Dreze (2009) explanation is not rejected, it is arguable that it is complementary to the demand-based explanations.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The Australian National University, Australia South Asia Research Centre in its series ASARC Working Papers with number 2010-16.

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Length: 38
Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:pas:asarcc:2010-16

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Related research

Keywords: Nutrients; Prices; Expenditure; Demand; Rural; Urban; India;

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Blog mentions

As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Indian calorie intakes decline despite rising incomes
    by Raghbendra Jha in East Asia Forum on 2010-09-07 00:12:25
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Cited by:
  1. Headey, Derek & Chiu, Alice & Kadiyala, Suneetha, 2011. "Agriculture's role in the Indian enigma: Help or hindrance to the undernutrition crisis?," IFPRI discussion papers 1085, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  2. Nidhi Kaicker & Vani S. Kulkarni & Raghav Gaiha, 2011. "Dietary Transition in India: An Analysis Based on NSS Data for 1993 and 2004," ASARC Working Papers, The Australian National University, Australia South Asia Research Centre 2011-10, The Australian National University, Australia South Asia Research Centre.


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