Determinants of Dietary Quality: Evidence from Bangladesh
Whereas a large number of empirical studies have been devoted to analyzing consumer demand for dietary energy (or dietary quantity), much less attention has been paid to the demand for dietary quality, an equally important aspect of food security. To address this gap in the literature, this paper uses data from a nationally representative household expenditure survey conducted in Bangladesh in 2000 on the food acquisition behavior of 7,440 households over a two week period. Two indicators of dietary quality are employed: household protein availability and household diet diversity. Using two-stage least squares regression to correct for the endogeneity of income, we find significant roles of income, education, gender of household head, and prices of key foods. The determination of dietary quality in the country has a strong gender dimension. While male education plays a positive role, female education is found to have a substantially stronger influence. Further, female household headship is associated with lower dietary quality than male headship. Given the crucial roles of income and education in increasing access to a high quality diet, the results call for the continued implementation of well targeted poverty reduction and education programs. Promoting female education and addressing the unique constraints faced by female headed households with respect to diet quality could be a significant policy instrument for government and non-government organizations in addressing food insecurity in Bangladesh.
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