Child Undernutrition in India
We have constructed a composite indicator of anthropometric failure (CIAF) that refines the Waterlow-3 tier classification, using a recent nation-wide household survey. The CIAF and its disaggregation into subcategories of undernourished 5 years old children reveal a grimmer story of child undernutrition than conventional anthropometric indicators do. Besides, simultaneous occurrence of anthropometric failures (e.g. stunting and underweight, and stunting, wasting and underweight) is pervasive. Our analysis of determinants of CIAF yields some new insights-specifically, the important role of food prices. Investigation of the links between different anthropometric failures and prevalence of infectious diseases (viz. Diarrhoea and acute respiratory infection), however, offers some justification for the disaggregated classification of undernourished children used here. Specifically, those with more than one failure were worse-off in this respect than children with no failure. There is a strong case for income growth together with food price stabilisation in curbing child undernutrition. Education has the desired effect but it is less strong than expected. Improvement in the quality of home environment makes a difference too but it is not conditional on income or wealth alone.
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