Is there a Convergence in Dietary Energy Intake among Expenditure-Classes in India
The study has empirically revealed that the widely discussed ‘calorie-consumption puzzle’ appears to have disappeared in the recent years and has established a positive marginal effect of income on dietary energy intake among Indian households. Nevertheless, nutritional effect of improvement in income varies across expenditure-classes, and rural and urban areas. The temporal changes have revealed a tendency of convergence in calorie intake across expenditure-classes between 1993-94 and 2011-12. The formal test of β-convergence (conditional) has shown that convergence in calorie intake is taking place at the rate of 7 per cent. Among factors conditioning β-convergence, real MPCE, food expenditure share and calorie intake from PDS have shown positive effects on growth in calorie intake. On the other hand, calorie prices and dietary diversification index have depicted negative marginal effects on growth in calorie intake. Resulting phenomenon is a decline in inter-class dispersion in calorie intake, which is proved through the test of σ-convergence. While this ‘picking up of poor’ in terms of calorie intake indicates strong welfare gains, analysis has shown that around four-fifths of the rural and three-fifths of the urban households are still undernourished. The findings imply that there should be targeted policy and program interventions to improve the nutritional status of poor households, while effective nutrition communication strategies are necessary to address the undernourishment among rich households.