Rossella Calvi (Rice University) on "Resource Sharing, Undernutrition and Poverty: Evidence from Bangladesh" (with Caitlin Brown and Jacob Penglase)

Speaker:  Rossella Calvi - Rice University
  Thursday, June 14, 2018 at 12:00 PM Polo Santa Marta, Via Cantarane 24, Sala Vaona
Policies aimed at reducing poverty in developing countries often assume that targeting poor households will be effective in reaching poor individuals. However, intra-household inequality in resource allocation may mean many poor individuals reside in non-poor households. Using a detailed dataset from Bangladesh that contains both individual-level food consumption and anthropometric outcomes for all household members, we first show that undernourished individuals are spread across the distribution of household per capita expenditure. We then test whether this pattern is driven by the unequal allocation of food and overall resources within families. To this aim, we develop a new methodology to identify and estimate the fraction of total household expenditure that is devoted to each household member in the context of a collective household model. Our approach exploits the observability of multiple assignable goods to weaken the assumptions required by existing identification methods. We use our structural estimates to compute individual-level poverty rates that account for disparities within families. We show that women, children, and the elderly face significant probabilities of living in poverty even in households with per capita expenditure above the poverty threshold.

Programme Director
Martina Menon

Publication date
May 4, 2018

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