Publisher/Institution: University of California, Riverside
Abstract: This paper uses recent demographic health survey’s 2005-6 data, providing information on child level usage of India’s only national program for combating widespread child malnutrition – Integrated child development scheme (ICDS) – to assess the impact of its flagship supplementary nutrition program on children’s physical growth. Using matching and difference-in-difference estimators, I find that girls 0-2 years old who are receiving supplementary feeding daily are at least 1cm (0.4 z-score) taller than other girls in rural India. The estimates are the same for boys 0-2 years old but less robust. Given that these height differentials are most likely irreversible, supplementary nutrition could potentially bridge the height gap between the richest and poorest girls by at least 28%, and for boys by 19%, at adulthood. Although the focus of supplementary nutrition has been on children ages 3-5, I find no evidence of a positive effect on growth for children in this age-group.