Social safety nets and nutrient deprivation: an analysis of the National Rural Employment Guarantee program and the Public Distribution System in India

Author name: 
Raghbendra Jha
Sambit Bhattacharyya
Raghav Gaiha

Using primary data collected during 2007-08 we examine the nutritional status with respect to the two macronutrients (calories and protein) as well as various micronutrients of rural households in three Indian states: Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. We find that, by and large, there are serious deficiencies in regard to consumption of various nutrients in all three states. With this as a background we model the impact of two policy interventions (NREG and PDS) on nutrient intake. In addition to OLS and IV estimations for each nutrient for each state, we also conduct systems estimation for each nutrient for all states. In many cases, there are significant effects of the two policy interventions on nutrient intakes. The impact effects of a change in the policy measures are also computed and found to vary across nutrients and states. Finally, in order to assess the impact on an index of undernutrition, both the nutrient-income relation and how the proportions of undernourished vary must be taken into account. As our analysis demonstrates, a preoccupation with the former could be misleading.

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