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Does the ICDS Improve the Quantity and Quality of Children’s Diets? Some Evidence from Rural Bihar

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  • Nitya Mittal

    (IMMANA)

  • J.V. Meenakshi

    (Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi, India)

Abstract

This study analyses the impact of supplementary nutrition provided through ICDS on intakes of calories, proteins, vitamin A and iron among young children in Bihar. The analysis is based on 24-hour dietary recall data collected for 320 children in four villages in rural Bihar in 2013, and uses matching methods to estimate impact. The results suggest that cooked meals, provided to children in the age-group 3-6 years, increase net intake of food by approximately 135 calories (about a third of the intended transfer), 6 grams of proteins (two-fifths of the intended transfer) and 2 grams of iron (half of the intended transfer), but there is no change in the net intake of vitamin A. There is also no evidence of any reduction in food allocated to these children at home. For children below 3 years of age, who receive take-home rations, there are no improvements in intakes of calories or any nutrients. Since the income elasticity of demand for calories and nutrients have been estimated to be of small magnitude, ex-ante there is no reason to expect the implicit ICDS income transfer to lead to substantial changes in intakes. That nonetheless, a significant positive effect is observed for children above 3 years suggests that parents view cooked meals differently than take-home rations, the latter being easier to allocate to other household members than cooked meals provided at the ICDS centre.

Suggested Citation

  • Nitya Mittal & J.V. Meenakshi, 2016. "Does the ICDS Improve the Quantity and Quality of Children’s Diets? Some Evidence from Rural Bihar," Working papers 257, Centre for Development Economics, Delhi School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:cde:cdewps:257
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