Centre for Development Economics
Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics


Can an improving disease environment
explain the

Indian calorie consumption decline puzzle?


Dean Spears

Centre for Development Economics

Thursday, 3oth January 2014 at 3:00 PM

Venue : Seminar Room (First Floor)
Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics

All are cordially invited


Since the 1980s, average calorie consumption in India has declined by about 200 calories per person per day. This large change has remained a puzzle in the economics literature. Could improvements in the disease environment account for part of this calorie decline? A diminished burden of infectious disease could reduce calorie needs by increasing absorption and e ective use of calories that would otherwise be lost to malabsorption or diarrhea, or consumed ghting disease. We employ three comple-mentary empirical strategies to document a robust e ect of the disease environment on calorie consumption. In particular, Indian districts where infant mortality declined by more from the 1980s to the 2000s experienced larger declines in calorie consumption, on average. This e ect cannot be attributed to work requirements, and is also reected in adult women’s body mass. Improvements in the disease environment could statistically account for about one-quarter or more of the Indian calorie decline.


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