ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles By Aashish Gupta

Pauses and Reversals of Infant Mortality Decline in 2017 and 2018

This note examines recent trends in infant mortality in India, based on summary reports from the Sample Registration System. We find evidence of slowdown, pauses, and reversals in infant mortality decline in large parts of India in 2017 and 2018. In urban areas, the infant mortality rate stagnated at 23 deaths per 1,000 births between 2016 and 2018. Worse, overall infant mortality increased in the poorer states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh. One possible interpretation of these findings is that the demonetisation experiment in late 2016 and the subsequent economic slowdown had an adverse effect on child health.

Revisiting Open Defecation

Since October 2014, the Government of India has worked towards the goal of eliminating open defecation by 2019 through the Swachh Bharat Mission. In June 2014, the results of a survey of rural sanitation behaviour in North India were first reported. The results from a late 2018 survey that revisited households from the 2014 survey in four states—Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh—are presented. Although rural latrine ownership increased considerably over this period, open defecation remains very common in these four states. There is substantial heterogeneity across states in what the sbm did and how. These outcomes suggest the need for a transparent, fact-based public dialogue about the sbm, its costs and benefits, and its accomplishments and means.

Persistence of Solid Fuel Use in Rural North India

Survey evidence from rural North India showing persistent solid fuel use despite increases in liquefied petroleum gas ownership is presented. Although three-quarters of survey households in these states had LPG, almost all also had a stove that uses solid fuels. Among those owning both, almost three-quarters used solid fuels the day before the survey. Household economic status, relative costs of cooking fuels, gender inequality, and beliefs about solid fuels were important contributors to high solid fuel use. To realise the full health benefits of the LPG expansion, attention must now be turned towards encouraging exclusive LPG use.