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Research Paper

The Calorie Consumption Puzzle in India: An Empirical Investigation

Publisher: University of Wisconsin

Over the past four decades, India has witnessed a paradoxical trend: average per capita calorie intake has declined even as real per capita monthly expenditure has increased over time. Since cross sectional evidence suggests a robust positive relationship between the two variables, the trend emerges as a major puzzle. The main explanations that have been offered in the literature to address the puzzle are: rural impoverishment, relative price changes, decline in calorie needs, diversification of diets, a squeeze on the food budget due to rising expenditures on non-food essentials, and decline in subsistence consumption (due to commercialization). In this paper we construct a novel panel dataset from household-level National Sample Survey data to test the “food budget squeeze.” Our panel consists of 74 NSS “state-regions” over six time periods (1983–84, 1987–88, 1993–94, 1999–00, 2004–05 and 2009–10). We demonstrate a strong effect of rising expenditures on non-food essentials like health, education, transportation and services, on calorie intake. We also construct a food price index directly from household-level expenditure data and show that the real food budget has been stagnant in India since the late 1980s

Author(s): Amit Basole, Deepankar Basu | Views(32) | Download (10)

  
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