In 1983, about 65% of rural Indians didn’t eat 2,400 calories per day and about 18% reported that they had a lack of food. 21 years later only 3% reported a lack of food but the percentage of people who didn’t consume 2,400 calories per day jumped to 78%. Weird right? So what does it mean?
I got this from the slides of the first lecture in MIT’s The Challenges of Global Poverty free online course and thought it was really interesting. I guess it means either that people don’t want to admit that they are lacking food nowadays, or that they actually do feel like they are getting enough food, because they have the choice to eat or not. This could be an answer to the infamous, “Why does everyone in the slum have a TV and a phone but they don’t have enough to eat?” question that every tourist is puzzled with. Because they choose to. Rural Indians have become less poor since 1983, and they seem to be choosing to spend their time and money on things other than a necessity like food. Maybe it’s because they have this choice that they’re reporting that they’re getting enough food, while they are in fact eating less than they did when they were poorer in 1983! Super interesting I think. Wish I could’ve been in the actual class in Cambridge and heard one of Esther Duflo’s TAs explain it.