Demand for nutrients in India: An analysis based on the 50th, 61st and 66th Rounds of the NSS

Author name: 
Raghav Gaiha
Nidhi Kaicker
Katsushi Imai
Ganesh Thapa

In response to the Deaton and Dreze (2009) explanation of a downward shift in the calorie Engel curve in terms of lower requirements due to health improvements and lower activity levels in India, we develop an alternative explanation embedded in a standard demand theory framework, with food price and expenditure effects and shifting food and expenditure elasticities. The analysis is carried out with unit record data for three NSS rounds over the period 1993–2009: 50th, 61st and 66th. There are shifts in demands due to factors other than lower requirements. While an earlier analysis with the 50th and 61st rounds of the NSS over the period 1993–2004 (Gaiha et al., 2012) corroborated in part the Deaton–Dreze conjecture of lower requirements, the extended analysis for 1993–2009 reported here undermines this conjecture as time effects weaken over the more recent period (2004–2009). But there is also weakening of food price and expenditure elasticities over this period. Closer scrutiny of food preferences and taste for variety is necessary to understand better nutritional deprivation as also to design more effective policies to ameliorate it. Key

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