Virtual Conference

Jyothimol Joseph

Pondicherry University, India

Title: Determinants of child malnutrition: empirical evidence from rural and urban India


Child health is paramount as it lays the foundation for a thriving and prosperous future. Being home to two-thirds of malnourished children, the prevalence has recently risen across India. In this study, an attempt has been made to determine the effects of each of the components of malnutrition on both rural and urban populations. Children aged 0-59 months with malnutrition Z-score cut off <– 2 Standard Deviation were selected from the NFHS–4&5 data. The indicators of malnutrition are chosen, focusing on child food intake, maternal factors and immunisation and infections in both rural and urban areas. Panel regression and biplot analysis identify the characteristics and determinants of child malnutrition in Indian states. Boxplots are used to visualise the distribution of malnutrition. Wasting and underweight are closely related, with stunting more prevalent in urban and rural areas. Biplot analysis indicated that Gujarat has the highest rate of underweight, while Bihar, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, and Uttar Pradesh have higher rates of multiple indices of malnutrition. Kerala, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand and Punjab have better health indices in urban and rural areas. Panel regression analysis indicated that mothers’ literacy, anthropometry (BMI < 18.5kg/m2) and children with fever or symptoms of ARI are the underlying factors of underweight both in urban and rural areas. Similarly, mothers’ anthropometry and children with fever or symptoms of acute respiratory infection influenced wasting. Further, obese mothers are the primary reason for child stunting in rural and urban India. Child malnutrition has to be eliminated from the grassroots level, which is determined by factors viz., mothers’ literacy, body mass index, and acute respiratory infection. Analysis based on place of residence will be more beneficial in identifying who has the absolute burden of malnutrition. 


Jyothimol Joseph is currently pursuing her PhD in Health Economics at Pondicherry University. She has presented papers in National Seminars. Being a research enthusiast and young researcher in the field, she is looking forward to attending many events and connecting with experts in her field.