How Well Do Household-Level Data Characterize Undernourishment? Evidence from Bangladesh

37 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2015

See all articles by Anna D'Souza

Anna D'Souza

School of Public Affairs, Baruch College, CUNY

Sharad Tandon

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Date Written: May 1, 2015

Abstract

Although undernourishment is characteristic of the individual, measurement has centered on household-level statistics that make strong assumptions regarding the equitable distribution of calories across household members. Utilizing a novel data source from Bangladesh that reports individual-level calorie intake, we investigate whether households distribute food equitably. We find substantial inequities in the intra-household distribution of calories, with household heads consuming inequitably large shares of total household calories. Furthermore, we find more inequitable calorie distributions among undernourished, poor households. Importantly, these results do not appear to be driven by assumptions about the energy requirements of household members. Due to the inequities, aggregate household-level data misclassify the nutritional status of a large share of the population. These findings have implications for food and nutrition program targeting, which often is based on household-level data.

Keywords: Bangladesh, Food Consumption, Intra-household Allocation, Food Security, Undernourishment

JEL Classification: D12, I15, O12, O53

Suggested Citation

D'Souza, Anna E. and Tandon, Sharad, How Well Do Household-Level Data Characterize Undernourishment? Evidence from Bangladesh (May 1, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2657617 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2657617

Anna E. D'Souza (Contact Author)

School of Public Affairs, Baruch College, CUNY ( email )

One Bernard Baruch Way
Box D-0901
New York, NY NY 10010
United States
646-660-6810 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/annadsouza/

Sharad Tandon

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) ( email )

1 Credit Union Place, Suite 320
Harrisburg, PA 17110
United States

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