Explaining recent increases in calorie intake in rural india: The role of social policy strengthening

08 August 2019

During the past decade, considerable research efforts have sought to explain India’s “calorie consumption paradox”, namely, the coexistence of a decline in average per capita calorie intake in rural India alongside increased material living standards. Evidence from the most recent (68th) round of the National Sample Survey (NSS), released in 2014, however, indicates increases in calorie intake, notably among poorer income quintiles. This paper argues that the turnaround in these data is linked to the improved performance of pro-poor social protection measures. Analysis of data suggests a close association between states that have made the greatest improvements in social policy delivery systems, and increased calorie intake for the poorest quintile of rural populations. This conclusion supports wider international evidence on the importance of social protection strengthening for nutrition-sensitive economic growth. © 2019 Taylor & Francis.