An Evaluation of the Indian Child Nutrition and Development Program

Eeshani Kandpal, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The Indian Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) aims to improve nutrition of young children by providing nutritional supplements and pre- and post-natal services to targeted villages. However, previous evaluations find ICDS fails to reduce malnutrition and program placement does not uniformly target vulnerable areas. I use new data to reevaluate ICDS on several dimensions; in contrast to previous studies, I find significant treatment effects particularly for the most malnourished children. Unlike previous studies, I control for non-normality of ICDS coverage; however, like previous work, results suggest targeting is not uniform. While ICDS effectively targets poor areas, it fails to target areas with low levels of education or those with unbalanced sex ratios. Results also show that allocation of national-level ICDS funds depends on voting patterns rather than malnutrition rates. I conclude that although once placed ICDS significantly reduces child malnutrition, which village receives the treatment continues to be problematic.

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Presented in Session 80: Prenatal Care, Early-Life Health and Child Development: Evidence from Developing Countries