Indians spending more on kids’ education, less on food

Indians spending more on kids’ edu, less on food

Subodh Varma TIG 

    Indian families are investing heavily in their children’s education and spending more on healthcare at the expense of basic needs like food, reveals a NSSO survey on spending patterns of households. 
    Between 1999 and 2009, expenditure on food increased by 70% among rural families and 78% among urban ones. But the spending on education jumped up by 378% in rural areas and 345% in urban areas. Even after correcting for inflation, the expenditure on education increased by a phenomenal 162% in rural areas and 148% in urban areas during the decade. Compare this to the overall household expenditure on all items, which increased by a mere 8% in rural areas and 20% in urban areas 
after adjusting for inflation. 
    And, it is not the same people who are spending more on their children’s education. In 2004-05, when the previous such survey was carried out, 40% of rural and 57% of urban families said they were spending on education. The new survey records a big jump in these numbers—63% of rural and 73% of urban families were getting their kids educated. 
    Expenditure on health, too, has shown a considerable hike though not as much as education. At current prices, spending on medical care in hospitals went up by 152% in rural areas and by 136% in urban areas. The corresponding figures after adjusting for inflation are 38% and 31%. Spending on noninstitutional medical care-—medicines, tests, fees—jumped up by 60% in rural areas and 102% in urban areas. After adjusting for inflation, this works out to a decline of about 12% in rural areas and a modest increase of 12% in urban areas. 
    As in the case of education, the increase in the proportion of families accessing institutional facilities is remarkable. From a minute 1.3% of rural and 1.5% of urban families getting institutional care in 2004-05, the proportions have risen 10-fold to 13% in rural and 14% in urban areas. The proportion of families reporting non-institutional spending remains at two-thirds of the total. 
    The NSSO survey, carried out between July 2009 and June 2010 covered 2,01,649 households.