Anthropometric Failure and Persistence of Poverty in Rural India
Recent studies have drawn attention to 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. Since stunting measures chronic undernutrition, this finding is significant in so far as it is indicative of other forms of deprivation that might persist despite higher incomes. With a view to shedding some light on these deprivations, an econometric investigation of the determinants of stunting was carried out, based on a recent all-India survey of rural households. While income matters, household and village characteristics have a more significant role in determining the prevalence of stunting. These include mother’s education, her age at marriage, male-female earnings differential, age and gender composition of children, and home and village infrastructure. A broad based rural development strategy that raises not just incomes of the poor but also women’s educational attainments and remunerative employment opportunities may thus be more effective in mitigating chronic deprivation.
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