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Anthropometric failure and persistence of poverty in rural India


  • Raghav Gaiha
  • Veena Kulkarni


Recent studies have drawn attention to the high prevalence of stunting among children in rural India. In fact, these estimates 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. With a view to shedding some new light on this issue, an analysis of the determinants of stunting is carried out, based on a recent all-India survey of rural households. While income matters, other factors acting independently of it matter too. These include 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 for them, enabling households to improve hygiene and sanitation facilities, and facilitating more competitive local markets for food.

Suggested Citation

  • Raghav Gaiha & Veena Kulkarni, 2005. "Anthropometric failure and persistence of poverty in rural India," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(2), pages 179-197.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:irapec:v:19:y:2005:i:2:p:179-197
    DOI: 10.1080/02692170500031711

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    Cited by:

    1. Foreman-Peck, James, 2011. "The Western European marriage pattern and economic development," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 292-309, April.
    2. Katsushi Imai & Samuel Kobina Annim & Raghav Gaiha & Veena S. Kulkarni, 2012. "Does Women’s Empowerment Reduce Prevalence of Stunted and Underweight Children in Rural India?," The School of Economics Discussion Paper Series 1209, Economics, The University of Manchester.
    3. Maithili Ramachandran & K.S. Kavi Kumar & Brinda Viswanathan, 2006. "Vulnerability to Chronic Energy Deficiency: An Empirical Analysis of Women in Uttar Pradesh, India," Working Papers 2006-012, Madras School of Economics,Chennai,India.
    4. Imai, Katsushi S. & Annim, Samuel Kobina & Kulkarni, Veena S. & Gaiha, Raghav, 2014. "Women’s Empowerment and Prevalence of Stunted and Underweight Children in Rural India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 88-105.
    5. Rae Lesser Blumberg & Kara Dewhurst & Soham G. Sen, 2013. "Gender-inclusive Nutrition Activities in South Asia : Volume 2. Lessons from Global Experiences," World Bank Other Operational Studies 15980, The World Bank.
    6. Steckel, Richard H., 2009. "Heights and human welfare: Recent developments and new directions," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 1-23, January.
    7. K. Kavi Kumar & Maithili Ramachandran & Brinda Viswanathan, 2009. "What Characterises Women Vulnerable to Chronic Energy Deficiency?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 90(3), pages 365-380, February.
    8. Francis Menjo Baye, 2010. "Exact Configuration of Poverty,Inequality and Polarization Trends in the Distribution of well-being in Cameroon," Research Papers RP_207, African Economic Research Consortium.
    9. Foreman-Peck, James & Zhou, Peng, 2014. "The Rise of the English Economy 1300-1900: A Lasting Response to Demographic Shocks," Cardiff Economics Working Papers E2014/3, Cardiff University, Cardiff Business School, Economics Section.
    10. Richards, Esther & Theobald, Sally & George, Asha & Kim, Julia C. & Rudert, Christiane & Jehan, Kate & Tolhurst, Rachel, 2013. "Going beyond the surface: Gendered intra-household bargaining as a social determinant of child health and nutrition in low and middle income countries," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 24-33.
    11. Raghav Gaiha & Vani Kulkarni & Manoj Pandey & Katsushi Imai, 2009. "Pro-poor growth, poverty, and inequality in rural Vietnam: welfare gap between the ethnic majority and minority," The School of Economics Discussion Paper Series 0907, Economics, The University of Manchester.
    12. Magnus Hatlebakk, 2012. "Malnutrition in South-Asia. Poverty, diet or lack of female empowerment?," CMI Working Papers 4, CMI (Chr. Michelsen Institute), Bergen, Norway.
    13. Raghbendra Jha & Raghav Gaiha & Anurag Sharma, 2006. "Mean Consumption, Poverty and Inequality in Rural India in the Sixtieth Round of the National Sample Survey," ASARC Working Papers 2006-11, The Australian National University, Australia South Asia Research Centre.

    More about this item


    Stunting; chronic deprivation; autonomy; hygiene and sanitation; food prices; JEL Classification: D1; D63; H51; I12;

    JEL classification:

    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • H51 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Health
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior


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