Malnutrition and India's ICDS: Evidence of a Program Effect?
Caryn Bredenkamp, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
John S. Akin, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Michele Gragnolati, World Bank Group
Established in 1975, India’s Integrated Child Development Services program is the world's largest early child development program, and one of the most studied. Yet, the evidence of its effectiveness in achieving its primary objective of combating child malnutrition is contradictory. Using a new dataset of almost 12,000 children in Kerala, we estimate a series of reduced-form child health demand models to capture the association between access to the program and nutritional status. Our results suggest that (i) a failure to control for key potential confounding variables - specifically, how long the ICDS program has been established in the community - and (ii) an inability to model the actual participation of children, may explain the lack of program effect observed in some earlier studies.