Assessing Healthcare Capacity in India

38 Pages Posted: 7 Apr 2020

See all articles by Shruti Rajagopalan

Shruti Rajagopalan

Classical Liberal Institute, NYU School of Law; Mercatus Center at George Mason University

Abishek Choutagunta

University of Hamburg

Date Written: April 2020


We assess India’s healthcare capacity by comparing several countrywide and state-level metrics: per capita spending on healthcare, healthcare spending priority in budgets, hospital bed capacity, and capacity in terms of doctors, nurses, and total healthcare personnel. We find that, overall, India has very fragile healthcare infrastructure for dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak. We make three recommendations: (1) India’s private-sector healthcare system has more capacity than government facilities, so the Indian government will need to rely on and incentivize the private sector by increasing funding and removing bottlenecks. (2) Healthcare capacity varies across states, and the union government should identify and assist at-risk states. (3) Compared to rural areas, urban areas are very poorly served by the state hospitals, creating an urgent need for state governments to identify and assist at-risk, high-density urban areas. In the absence of a vaccine, the lockdown may have to continue longer with measures such as a universal basic income implemented for the poor, allowing India to swiftly build up its healthcare infrastructure.

Keywords: COVID-19, coronavirus, coronavirus pandemic, India, India healthcare capacity, India COVID-19 preparedness, India COVID-19 lockdown, public health, economics, quarantine, economy, economic crisis

JEL Classification: H51, H75, I11, I38

Suggested Citation

Rajagopalan, Shruti and Choutagunta, Abishek, Assessing Healthcare Capacity in India (April 2020). Mercatus Working Paper, Available at SSRN: or

Shruti Rajagopalan (Contact Author)

Classical Liberal Institute, NYU School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

Mercatus Center at George Mason University ( email )

3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

Abishek Choutagunta

University of Hamburg ( email )

Allende-Platz 1
Hamburg, 20146

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