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Ashok Kotwal
The challenge of job creation
Posted on: 15 Dec 2017
The process of economic transformation that entails labour transitioning from low- to high ... read on »
GST Explainer: Introduction
Posted on: 16 Oct 2017
Seventeen years after its framework was formed, India’s biggest tax reform – the goods and ... read on »
Introducing a new feature: ‘Explainers’
Posted on: 16 Oct 2017
Our day-to-day lives are tossed around due to economic changes, resulting sometimes from g ... read on »
On demonetisation
Posted on: 23 Dec 2016
On the evening of 8 November, the Prime Minister announced on national television that Rs. ... read on »

Tag: child health

Improving nutritional outcomes through conditional cash transfers
Alok Kumar , Sneha Palit
Posted on: 22 Nov 2017
Topics:   Health


The Indian government plans to universalise the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana – a conditional cash transfer programme for pregnant women and lactating mothers that aims to improve maternal and child health. In this context, this column presents findings from a pilot undertaken in Bihar to test the efficacy of conditional cash transfers to improve nutritional outcomes.
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Indoor air pollution and stunting among Indian children
Anca Balietti , Prateek Mittal
Posted on: 15 Nov 2017
Topics:   Environment , Health


While the conversation on air quality has been focussed largely on outdoor air pollution, millions of deaths occur due to indoor air pollution as well. Based on 2005–2006 National Family Health Survey data, this column presents strong evidence that exposure to indoor air pollution from burning solid fuels increases the probability of stunting among children in India.
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Japanese encephalitis in Gorakhpur: Why has vaccination failed to make an impact?
Kaushik Bharati
Posted on: 18 Sep 2017
Topics:   Health


Vaccination is the mainstay of prevention strategies for Japanese encephalitis – the child killer disease that recently caused many deaths in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh. In this article, Dr Kaushik Bharati discusses why the vaccine drive in India has failed to reach its full potential in the fight against the disease, and what can be done about it.
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Women empowerment in nutrition: Access to healthcare
Udayan Rathore
Posted on: 14 Sep 2017
Topics:   Gender , Health


Access to healthcare is constrained by three key factors – physical access to healthcare facilities, ability to pay, and quality of care. In this note, Udayan Rathore discusses how within poor households, women and children suffer disproportionately more on account of these constraints.

This is the third post of a five-part series.

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Women empowerment in nutrition: Do women really have a say in preparing and providing food?
Sweta Bhusan
Posted on: 13 Sep 2017
Topics:   Gender , Health


Decision-making capacity of women within the household and in the community is considered to be a reflection of their empowerment. In this note, Sweta Bhusan discusses one dimension of decision-making that revolves around procuring, preparing and serving food to household members.

This is the second post of a five-part series.

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How female foeticide has influenced fertility and parental investments in girls
S. Anukriti , Sonia Bhalotra , Hiu Fung Tam
Posted on: 11 Sep 2017
Topics:   Gender


The introduction of ultrasound technology in India has been documented to have led to a phenomenal increase in abortion of female fetuses. However, this column finds that it also decreased son-biased fertility stopping, narrowed gender gaps in breastfeeding and immunisation, and improved the survival chances of girls.
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Gorakhpur’s Japanese Encephalitis malady
Smriti Sharma
Posted on: 24 Aug 2017
Topics:   Health


The recent controversy around multiple child deaths in a public hospital in Gorakhpur district in Uttar Pradesh has brought the focus back on Japanese Encephalitis – the child killer disease. In this article, Smriti Sharma contends that a holistic, intersectoral approach is required to tackle the issue.
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Political decentralisation, female leadership, and health in rural Bihar
Santosh Kumar , Nishith Prakash
Posted on: 23 Aug 2017

Political decentralisation and female representation in governance are known to improve social welfare by influencing policy decisions in favour of women and children. Analysing data from rural Bihar, this column finds that having a female leader at the village council level has a strong positive association with institutional births, and child survival rates for richer households.
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Midday meals scheme: Are corruption claims exaggerated?
Monika Yadav
Posted on: 31 Jul 2017

Soon after Aadhaar was made compulsory for availing midday meals in schools, the government claimed that the move had helped expose several instances of schools siphoning off funds under the scheme by reporting inflated student enrolment. Comparing official data with that from the Indian Human Development Survey, this column shows that corruption in the scheme is less than what is being alleged - and not of the nature that Aadhaar can check.
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Health policy and economic growth in India
Nalini Gulati , Nidhiya Menon
Posted on: 27 Jul 2017

A new synthesis paper (Menon 2017) produced by the International Growth Centre brings together evidence from various health-related IGC studies on India undertaken over the past seven years, to draw implications for health policy. At a workshop organised by IGC in collaboration with Ideas for India and Indian Statistical Institute, Srinath Reddy (Public Health Foundation of India), Alok Kumar (NITI Aayog), and Karthik Muralidharan (University of California, San Diego) discussed key policy lessons emerging from research, and areas where further work is required.
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The demographic impact of extended paid maternity leave in Bangladesh
Salma Ahmed
Posted on: 14 Jun 2017
Topics:   Gender , Jobs


In March 2017, Indian Parliament passed the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 extending paid maternity leave to 26 weeks. This column analyses the impact of extension of paid maternity leave in Bangladesh in 2006 and 2010, on infant mortality, female labour force participation, and fertility rates.
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Assam’s Brahmaputra Community Radio Station: Innovation in health communication
Anjali Mariam Paul
Posted on: 12 May 2017

River Brahmaputra which flows across the Northeast Indian state of Assam, carves out a network of nearly 2,300 islands, isolating them from the mainland and excluding their inhabitants from access to basic infrastructure and health facilities. Based on her fieldwork, Anjali Mariam Paul describes the working of an innovative intervention in health communication – a non-commercial grassroots community radio station for these river islands.
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Leaving stunting behind: Evidence from ethnic Indians in England
Caterina Alacevich , Alessandro Tarozzi
Posted on: 27 Apr 2017
Topics:   Health


Despite impressive rates of economic growth in recent decades, India remains one of the worst-performing countries worldwide in terms of height, among children and adults. This column shows that height gaps exist, although decline substantially, among adult immigrants of Indian ethnicity in England, while virtually disappearing among their young children.
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Understaffed, underserved: Human problems of India’s public health system
Prateek Mittal , Vartika Singh
Posted on: 13 Oct 2016
Topics:   Health


India’s progress in reducing infant and maternal mortality is rather slow. This column shows the extent of shortfall of gynaecologists and auxiliary nurse midwives - the frontline of the battle against infant and maternal mortality – across health facilities in the country. It argues that along with absenteeism in public services, vacancies is a crucial area that requires improvement.
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Water quality awareness and behaviour change
Pinar Keskin , Hannah Ruebeck , Gauri Kartini Shastry
Posted on: 28 Jul 2016
Topics:   Health


Universal access to clean water is far from a reality in many developing countries. This column examines a nationwide information campaign that attempted to minimise the use of arsenic-contaminated tubewells in Bangladesh. It finds that mothers in arsenic-contaminated areas are more likely to exclusively breastfeed their children, and breastfeed for longer after the campaign - likely out of concern for child well-being. It also finds that infant health improves.
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Maternity entitlements for healthier babies
Diane Coffey , Payal Hathi
Posted on: 07 Jul 2016
Topics:   Gender , Health


The National Food Security Act, 2013 provides for a maternity benefit of not less than Rs. 6,000 for every pregnant and lactating mother in India. In this article, Coffey and Hathi explain why maternity entitlements are a good investment, and discuss how they should be designed to have the biggest impact on the health and productivity of the next generation.
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Quality of governance and welfare outcomes
Salma Ahmed , Ranjan Ray
Posted on: 27 Apr 2016
Topics:   Political Economy


As the MDGs gave way to the SDGs, considerable attention has been focussed on movements in key welfare indicators for women and children in the past decade. In this context, this column compares India with Bangladesh, and also looks at the relative performance of Indian states. Further, it provides evidence on the strength of association between the quality of governance and welfare outcomes in India.
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Early life nutrition and future educational outcomes: Findings from ICDS
Ramanan Laxminarayan , Arindam Nandi
Posted on: 25 Apr 2016
Topics:   Education , Health


Integrated Child Development Services – India’s flagship child nutrition programme – has recently suffered a major cut in funding. This column shows that supplementary nutrition provided under the programme positively influences long-term educational outcomes of children. The findings suggest that funding for the programme should be fully restored and efforts should be made to address its systemic inefficiencies.
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Improving maternal and child health through conditional cash transfers
Sisir Debnath
Posted on: 21 Mar 2016
Topics:   Gender , Health


Cash transfers to the poor, conditional on use of particular public services, are a popular tool to increase healthcare utilisation. This column evaluates the impact of one such scheme – Janani Suraksha Yojana - and finds that it encouraged pregnant women to deliver babies at healthcare facilities. It also suggests that the marginal effect of cash incentives is larger when provided to healthcare workers rather than mothers.
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How has MNREGA impacted the lives of women and children in India?
Subha Mani
Posted on: 15 Mar 2016

In this article, Subha Mani, Professor of Economics at Fordham University, summarises evidence that shows that MNREGA has mostly positively impacted the lives of women and children in India.

Tweet using #MNREGA10yrs

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Ganga pollution cases: Impact on infant mortality
Shareen Joshi
Posted on: 26 Feb 2016
Topics:   Environment , Health


In response to a writ petition against pollution of the river Ganga due to industrial waste, the Supreme Court of India in 1987 mandated the tanneries in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh to either clean up or shut down. This column finds that the ruling resulted in a significant drop in river pollution, which in turn reduced infant mortality in the city.
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Child development: How are Indian states faring?
Jean Drèze , Reetika Khera
Posted on: 10 Dec 2015
Topics:   Education , Health


The recent release of the ‘Rapid Survey On Children’ report presents an opportunity to take a fresh look at the state of Indian children. Based on a simple Child Development Index constructed for 2005-06 and 2013-14, this column finds that Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh are at the top. Other states – even Bihar – can catch up, but only if they learn the right lessons from the leading states.
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Has the ICDS helped reduce stunting in India?
Monica Jain
Posted on: 09 Oct 2015
Topics:   Health


While stunting has declined sharply in India, the levels remain disturbingly high at 38.7%. This column evaluates the impact of the supplementary feeding component of ICDS – India’s flagship programme for early child development - and finds sizable positive effects on heights of 0-2 year olds. However, these gains are achievable only if the programme is focused on this age group and if food is delivered regularly.
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Religion and health in early childhood: Evidence from South Asia
Elizabeth Brainerd , Nidhiya Menon
Posted on: 03 Jul 2015
Topics:   Health


The widespread malnutrition of children in South Asia is persistent and troubling. Given the importance of religion in the region, this column examines the relationship between inequalities in child health and religious identity across India, Bangladesh and Nepal. It finds a consistent trend of Muslim advantage in infancy, vis-à-vis Hindus, and its reversal after 12 months of age across the three countries.
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A campaign to end malnutrition in Bihar
Hena Naqvi
Posted on: 08 May 2015
Topics:   Health


About 55% of 0-3 year old children in the state of Bihar are malnourished. In this article, Hena Naqvi, State Programme Officer at the Department of Social Welfare, Government of Bihar, describes an ambitious campaign launched by the government in October 2014 to reduce child malnutrition in the state to 30% by 2017.
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Droughts and child health
Santosh Kumar , Ramona Molitor , Sebastian Vollmer
Posted on: 27 Jan 2015
Topics:   Health


Research has pointed towards the importance of foetal health in child development. Assessing the impact of rainfall variability on child health, this column finds that exposure to drought in the womb increases the child’s likelihood of being underweight. It suggests that policies aimed at reducing child malnutrition need to start at the beginning of human life, that is, in the womb.
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The youngest are hungriest
Seema Jayachandran , Rohini Pande
Posted on: 17 Sep 2014
Topics:   Health , Gender


Babies born in India are more likely to be stunted than those in sub-Saharan Africa, even though the former are better off on average. This column examines how the India-Africa height gap varies by birth order within the family and finds that it begins with the second-born and becomes more pronounced with each subsequent baby. Favouritism toward firstborn sons in India explains this trend.
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Can MNREGA buffer negative shocks in early childhood?
Aparajita Dasgupta
Posted on: 29 Aug 2014

Exposure to negative shocks such as drought during early childhood is known to have lasting, detrimental effects on human development outcomes. This column examines whether a household’s access to MNREGA, later in the life of the child, can offset the impact of early childhood shocks. It finds that programme access, although incapable of correcting for past deficiencies, does mitigate the impact of recent shocks.
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What the Muslim mortality paradox reveals about importance of sanitation for all children in India
Michael Geruso
Posted on: 18 Aug 2014
Topics:   Health


It has long been noted that in India, Hindu children face substantially higher mortality rates than Muslim children, despite being relatively richer on average. This column shows that differences in latrine use by religion can fully explain this pattern. This phenomenon sheds new light on how the open defecation practices of a household can influence the health of its neighbours.
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Ending undernutrition: In clear sight?
Lawrence Haddad
Posted on: 30 Jun 2014
Topics:   Health


The World Health Assembly is targeting a decline of 100 million in the number of stunted under-five children by 2025; a 10% decline in stunting rates in India by 2014 can close a fifth of the gap. This article contents that we are in the midst of a ‘perfect storm’ for ending undernutrition, and maximum effort is required to take advantage of this transformative opportunity.
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Impact of Community Health Workers on childhood immunisation: Evidence from India’s ASHAs
Tanvi Rao
Posted on: 27 Jun 2014
Topics:   Health


A key component of the National Rural Health Mission launched by the Indian government in 2005 was the introduction of a cadre of village-level Community Health Workers known as ASHAs. This column analyses the impact of the ASHA programme on childhood immunisation, and finds that ASHAs have had a positive impact by generating awareness regarding the need and availability of immunisation.
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The plight of ‘complimentary’ migrants: Children at brick kilns
Parul Agarwal
Posted on: 09 May 2014

Migration for work is meant to benefit families of migrant workers. But what if the families migrate along with the worker? Based on visits to brick kilns in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka, Parul Agarwal describes the plight of children of migrant workers in the Indian brick manufacturing industry.
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Giving up too early on malnourished children? Catch-up growth and Midday Meals
Abhijeet Singh
Posted on: 14 Apr 2014
Topics:   Health


It is widely believed that malnourishment in the first few years of childhood adversely affects cognition and adult economic outcomes. This column presents new research which shows that full recovery from early malnourishment is possible. Based on data from the state of Andhra Pradesh, it is found that the Midday Meals programme of the Government of India has been successful in compensating for early nutritional deprivation.
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Sanitation in India: First things first
Jeffrey Hammer
Posted on: 27 Jan 2014
Topics:   Health


Recent research points towards the role of poor sanitation in ill health and stunting. This column demonstrates the negative impact of open defecation habits and poor nutritional status on the height of children in India. It recommends that the government should prioritise sanitation by building infrastructure and spreading awareness, before focusing on providing publicly funded medical care.
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The unintended child health consequences of the Green Revolution in India
Nidhiya Menon
Posted on: 09 Sep 2013
Topics:   Health , Agriculture


While the Green Revolution in India greatly enhanced agricultural production, the enhanced use of fertilisers led to the contamination of surface and ground water. This column analyses the impact of fertiliser agrichemicals in water on infant and child health. It is found that exposure of mothers to these contaminants in the month after conception increases the chances of infant death within a month of birth, and also has long-lasting negative effects on child health.
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On tackling child malnutrition
Prakarsh Singh
Posted on: 30 Aug 2013
Topics:   Health


Is it the lack of information on nutrition given to mothers, or the lack of child care worker motivation that makes child malnutrition persist? This column cites results from a study undertaken in the slums of Chandigarh in North India to investigate this question. The findings suggest that that offering performance pay to child care workers is likely to be ineffective unless mothers have nutritional information available to them.
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Why are children in India so short?
Sangita Vyas
Posted on: 19 Aug 2013
Topics:   Health


Several scholars across disciplines provide converging evidence of the key role of open defecation in explaining child stunting in India. This column summarises the key themes of a recent conference at the Delhi School of Economics on child height in India.
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Does mother’s status affect the child’s stature?
Diane Coffey
Posted on: 22 Feb 2013
Topics:   Gender , Health


Both women’s status and children’s health in South Asia are abysmal. Can a well-defined link be established from women’s status to child health? This column presents results of a study that uses variation in the status of women in joint rural households to show that children born to lower status daughters-in-law are shorter than those born to higher status daughters-in-law, despite there being no apparent difference in pre-marriage characteristics of parents.
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Child stunting and open defecation: How much of the South Asian height “enigma” is a toilet gap?
Dean Spears
Posted on: 18 Feb 2013
Topics:   Health


Children in India are shorter on average than children in Sub-Saharan Africa, even though Indians are richer on average. What explains this paradox? This column suggests open defecation as a possible explanation, and recommends that policymakers in India should work towards achieving widespread latrine use.
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Infant mortality in times of recession
Sonia Bhalotra
Posted on: 30 Jan 2013

Can recessions have permanent effects on people’s health in developing countries? This column looks at infant mortality in India and finds that recessions make things worse. The paradox is that this is often because women are working more, which in isolation is something to be welcomed. It calls for a balance to be struck between empowering mothers and protecting the most vulnerable.
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Like parent, like child: Health transmission in developing countries
Sonia Bhalotra
Posted on: 28 Jan 2013
Topics:   Gender , Health


To what extent is children’s health determined by their mothers’ health? This column analyses three decades’ worth of data on over two million children across 38 developing countries to explore how health is transmitted across generations – and how public policy can respond.
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Child malnutrition in India and what can be done about it
Pushkar Maitra , Anu Rammohan
Posted on: 15 Oct 2012

While many things are getting better in India, the disturbing levels of child malnutrition are hardly changing. This column explores why and asks what can be done. It calls for more conditional cash transfers to poor rural families and better education on how to feed their children.
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Child malnutrition: Why wealth isn’t the only problem
Nisha Malhotra
Posted on: 08 Oct 2012
Topics:   Education , Health


Why does child malnutrition persist in India? This column argues that the reason is not limited to poverty or inadequate access to food; but that a lack of knowledge about healthy nutrition plays a vital role.
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Food for thought: On the design of school subsidy programmes
Farzana Afridi
Posted on: 06 Aug 2012

Despite significant increase in primary school enrollments, student attendance rates are less than 70% in public schools. This column argues that India needs to start evaluating its existing school subsidies systematically. It finds that provision of free cooked meals at schools that are sufficient not just in terms of quantity but also quality and variety will ensure better targeting and help get more children in school.
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Multi-dimensional deprivation in India: Comparisons with China and Vietnam
Ranjan Ray
Posted on: 03 Aug 2012
Topics:   Health


While several studies have compared India with China on economic measures such as GDP per capita, this column looks at a measure of people’s deprivation across a wide range of indicators. It finds India lagging behind in several dimensions, particularly on children’s health.
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