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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - Sanhati
Title Food budget squeeze, market penetration and the calorie consumption puzzle in India
Author(s)
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2012
URL http://sanhati.com/excerpted/5855/
Abstract
In the past three decades, even as incomes have been rising in rural India, people have been consuming fewer calories. In this article we present results of a recent study showing that this paradox results from people spending more of their scarce incomes on non-food essentials such as educating their children, paying for services such as mobile phones, and paying for health care, and transportation, than on consuming food. Thus although rural incomes have risen modestly (after adjusting for inflation), they have not risen fast enough, with the result that the food budget is being squeezed by rapidly increasing expenditure on non-food essentials. In combination with reduced access to non-market sources of food (food grown at home or procured from forests, rivers etc.), the food budget squeeze is leading to lower average calorie intake over time even as incomes are rising. While a policy evaluation that focuses purely on rising incomes or spending would result in a favorable report card for neoliberal policies, our analysis points to a failure of government policy in securing even a basic minimum of nutrition (by its own standards) to its citizens, even as their incomes are growing.

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