IMMANA Fellow - Nitya Mittal

Dr.  Nitya Mittal (India) - holder of an IMMANA Fellowship Round 1

Project Title: Intra-household allocation and child nutrition in Bihar, India

Quick bio:
PhD: Economics (Delhi School of Economics, 2016)
Current Employment: Department of Economics, Columbia University (USA)
Home mentor: J.V. Meenakshi, Delhi School of Economics (India)
Host mentor: Pierre-Andre Chiappori, Columbia University (USA/France)
Start date: October 1, 2015

Nitya Mittal is an IMMANA post-doctoral fellow at the Department of Economics, Columbia University. Her research is focused on issues in improving nutrition and health of young children in India. She is currently working on examining the paradox of food insecurity among children in food secure households, and vice versa, in agricultural households. Alongside this, she is working on developing efficient metrics to measure quantity and quality of diet, as the existing measures, namely weighment method and dietary recall, are very expensive and involve time-consuming surveys.

She received her PhD in Economics from the Delhi School of Economics, India in February, 2016 under the mentorship of Prof. J. V. Meenakshi and Dr. Deepti Goel. Her thesis evaluated the impact of a pre-school health intervention on dietary intakes and health outcomes of young children. It also shed light on patterns and factors affecting intra-household allocation of food to young children in rural Indian households. She has also provided research support for a range of projects, including those on nutrifarms, consumer acceptance of nutritious foods, and impact assessment of biofortified crops.

Project summary: 
The foods allocated to children in agricultural households are often nutritionally inadequate, reflecting complex patterns of age and sex discrimination associated with gender roles and other aspects of intra-household relationships. This study uses an original 24-hour recall survey of individual intake combined with data on a variety of individual and household attributes in Bihar, to test for variation in allocation of dietary energy and specific nutrients to children in diverse circumstances. The primary aim of the study is to test for differences in the allocation of dietary energy as opposed to micronutrients among children, hypothesizing that while energy is allocated to working adults, micronutrients may be differentially allocated to children. A secondary aim is to use the 24-hour recall data to validate results from two less costly approaches, namely monthly consumption expenditures and food-frequency measures. Findings from both aims will guide the measurement of nutritional adequacy in households where individual intake may different significantly from the household’s per-capita average.