Economic growth will not feed the hungry, say researchers

December 4th, 2012 in Other Sciences / Social Sciences

(Medical Xpress)—New research on India's rural poor has revealed that the country's impressive economic growth has not made a significant dent in its low levels of adult and child nutrition.

The team from the Universities of Manchester, Delhi, Cape Coast and Arkansas say the large sector of the economy relying on low wages and physically demanding work hinders improvement in nutrition across rural areas.

Policies which empower women through better education and employment opportunities are key to reduce the number of undernourished children they add.

Dr Katsushi Imai, Senior Lecturer from The University of Manchester, says increasing the productivity of farmers, fishermen, labourers and production workers reliant on manual labour, has had little impact on nutritional status.

The study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, draws upon large nation-wide micro data on and other nutritional data collected in India from 1992, 1998 and 2005.

He said: "In India, adult measured by BMI has improved since 1982, but the pace has been sluggish.

"On , the situation is far worse: India has one of the worst levels of , underweight and wasting among children in Asia despite its status as a major .

"Our research has shown that these problems cannot be resolved alone by increasing productivity and economic growth.

He added: "For adults it's the type of employment which tends to result in these lower BMI figures.

"Unemployment, low pay and reliance on physically demanding work are to blame- and increasing productivity in these sectors changes little.

"But creating more professionals and managers is far from an easy option for a majority of the poor as they lack skills and education and cannot overcome structural barriers that are so pervasive.

"Extensive provision of health insurance and better infrastructure are also likely to reduce the temporary nutritional deprivation of children.

More information: www.bwpi.manchester.ac.uk/reso… ue_16_Imai_et_al.pdf

Provided by University of Manchester

"Economic growth will not feed the hungry, say researchers." December 4th, 2012. http://phys.org/news/2012-12-economic-growth-hungry.html