Posts filed under ‘Economic and Social Development’

Infographic – India expenditure data , rural

We’d earlier shared a set of infographics on per capita expenditure on various categories in urban India ( ), and the trends over time therein ( ). This post shares similar data for rural India.

India MPCE - Expenditure data - Rural

The first point to note is that the average MPCE (monthly per capita expenditure) is much lower for rural India vs. that for urban India (Rs. 1429.96 vs. Rs. 2629.6 respectively). Hence, while the absolute value of expenditure on various categories may be lower in rural India, as a percentage of the MPCE it’s much higher. For instance, though the average monthly spend on food is Rs. 622 per capita, it is 48.6% of the total per capita expenditure ; this is closer to the proportion spent by the poorer fractiles of the population in urban India. One area on which folk in rural India spend much less than their counterparts in urban areas is housing, others are education and transportation. In almost every other category, the proportional spends (spending on category as a % of average MPCE) of rural folk are actually higher than those from urban areas.


  • Ravindra Ramavath


June 6, 2016 at 11:55 am 1 comment


We’d run a series of posts on the population distribution of various nations a few years ago and shown the transition of the age-wise demographic distribution of many countries from pyramid to either kite, dome or cylinder (read posts here, here, here). This video from the Economist shows how the population pyramid of the world is changing with time, and here’s an article from the same publication that mentions that from now on children in schools and colleges will learn about the population ‘dome’ and not the population ‘pyramid’ ! Monumental change, isn’t it ?

We’d also looked at some implications of India’s so-called demographic dividend in two posts (read them here and here ). This article from the Mint offers a worrisome perspective on how the low skill levels of our young workforce may undo much of the benefit we hope to reap from it in the manufacturing sphere. It isn’t a very encouraging perspective, so if you’re already in a blue mood, read the article anther day.

Changing topics, a few links on interesting articles related to behavioural sciences.

This video on the Backwards Brain Bicycle is a rather entertaining look at biases – or neural pathways that are so natural we don’t even recognise them, unlearning the bias and then learning to think differently, and how much time it takes.

One article that’s about changing people’s behaviours and an experiment to test which works – facts, science, emotion, or fear.

An article on language, surprisingly on how the language you use changes your view of the world. Incidentally, bilinguals have a lot of tangible benefits, including protection against dementia – so that should be good for all us Indians who know English and Hindi and a mother-tongue, and often Sanskrit or French or some official third language from school.The last paragraph is especially interesting – ‘when judging risk, bilinguals also tend to make more rational economic decisions in a second language. In contrast to one’s first language, it tends to lack the deep-seated, misleading affective biases that unduly influence how risks and benefits are perceived.’ I wonder whether this lack of bias also manifests itself when bilinguals think of other subjective issues in a second language, say opinions of politicians, or climate change, or co-workers for that matter.

Collated By,

Zenobia Driver

November 7, 2015 at 6:06 am Leave a comment

The MPCE calculation – methodology

This post is just a follow-up to the previous post – fulfilling my promise of illustrating how the MPCE is calculated.

Computing MPCE

  • The process has evolved over time to the current large sample quinquennial surveys (once in 5 years)
  • Broadly, the endeavor has been to get more accurate data and time periods have been appropriately chosen / designed to capture certain data.
  • The household consumer expenditure schedule used for the survey captures both information on quantity and value of household consumption.
  • Info collected consists of 142 items of food, 15 items of energy (fuel, light and household appliances), 28 items of clothing, bedding and footwear, 19 items of educational and medical expenses, 51 items of durable goods, and 89 other items.

Whew ! That’s a lot, isn’t it ?

  • Ravindra Ramavath

October 7, 2015 at 5:10 pm Leave a comment

Infographic – India expenditure trend, urban

India Expenditure Trend Urban - trends

  • Urban India has seen an increase of 128% in MPCE(URP) based on current prices
    • Real MPCE (measured using a price deflator with 1987-88 as base) has increased 29% between ‘04 to ’11, a CAGR of 3.7%
  • Share of food in MPCE declined by about 4pp in urban India between ’04 -’12 , you can clearly see the light green band receding from the right end
    • A few more points that are not shown in the graph :
      • Within foods, except for Milk, fruits & Beverages, all other products categories tracked have fallen in contribution.
        • While Milk and fruits has increased by 1pp, beverages have increased from 15% to 18% within foods
      • Cereals have registered the largest decline – from 24% to 19%
    • Among the rest of expenditure, durable & minor durable type goods has seen the highest jump of 2.4pp followed by rent at 1.4pp and clothing & bedding at 1.3.
    • Also, notice the steady rise in medical and education expenses
    • Proportion of spends on entertainment have also risen, albeit off a small base

The method of computing MPCE is rather interesting ; next week we’ll share an infographic on that too.

  • Ravindra Ramavath

September 22, 2015 at 2:47 pm Leave a comment

Child Mortality

Child Mortality 1

Click to enlarge


Child Mortality 2

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Child Mortality 3

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While the info-graphics above need no explanation, for those who lack the time to enlarge the image and peruse them, am mentioning below some key take-aways :

  • 6.6 Mn children under the age of 5 died in 2012
  • The global under-5 mortality rate equals 48 deaths per 1000 births

o   In case you thought the scourge of pneumonia had been banished, think again ; it accounts for 17% of these deaths, and is the largest contributor, along with prematurity. Pneumonia is still the leading cause of deaths in 83 countries

o   Malaria is still a major killer in Sub-Saharan Africa, causing about 14 percent of under-five deaths in the region.

o   Deaths due to diarrhoea have been nearly halved in the past decade but it still accounts for a tenth of all under-five deaths. Deaths due to Diarrhoea are high in countries such as India, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Angola, Niger etc.

  • India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Nigeria and China, 7 of the most populous countries, collectively accounted for half of the total number of under-five deaths globally

o   While China is mentioned among these, it’s under-5 mortality rate (at 14 deaths per 1000 births) is actually much less than that of the other nations , it features on this list die it’s large population base

o   Of these nations, the statistic is the worst for Nigeria, with an under-5 mortality rate of 124 deaths per 1000 births

In case to wish to see statistics on under-5 mortality rates or causes for a particular country, you can click on this link for causes and this link for rates.

  • Ravindra Ramavath


June 5, 2014 at 8:32 am Leave a comment

Quality of Available Education

As promised in our last post, here are some interesting statistics from Pratham’s ASER survey about the quality of education available currently.   Education infographic - ASER 2013



In addition, for viewing this data by state, click on this link to view the enrolment data, and on this link to view the data on arithmetic ability. If interested, you can also view the changes in these parameters over time.

  • Ravindra Ramavath

May 15, 2014 at 9:28 am Leave a comment

Micro-entrepreneurs and Math

Our last post focussed on literacy levels and the availability of schools in a few focus states. This post is anecdotal in nature and contains some observations about the various ways in which the lack of a quality education hinders micro-entrepreneurs from developing necessary business skills and attaining their full potential ; the next post will share some quantitative data on the quality of education available to children currently.

While interacting with adult learners at the Cream training programmes offered by Tree Society to rural micro-entrepreneurs, I’ve noticed that they struggle with basic math and/or with the application of basic math. Yet, the adults undergoing CREAM training are not illiterate; all of them have attended school for at least a few years, most are 10th or 12th pass, and some are graduates from a local college.


There are those who know the calculations – can manage division, decimals, percentages etc. – but struggle to apply these in real-life situations.

[  A simple example : The owner of a small business may know what percentage is and even how to convert a percentage to a value; i.e. he knows that 10% of 200 = 20

But he may struggle when faced with a question in words. ‘A business sold goods worth Rs. 4000 this month. It expects a 10% increase in sale value next month. What will be the value of total sales next month ?’ ]

I have also noticed another phenomenon – even when they learn how to apply a formula and use it, any change in the structure of the problem or in the way they need to apply a formula leaves them slightly confused as algebraic manipulation is a skill not taught to them. For example, even if they understand a formula for profitability and its application, they are unable to rearrange and apply the formula to a problem where desired profitability and costs are known, but selling price and revenue are to be calculated.

Then there are some adults who seem to have learnt hardly any Math beyond counting and addition in childhood. They struggle with sums that involve simple division and cannot interpret decimals or fractions correctly. They are fazed by basic calculations such as margin or profit %, growth rate etc. As a result, the micro – businesses they run are inefficient and fail in adopting well-established processes such as setting the right selling price for their product, or estimating the right amount of raw material based on a sales forecast, or making a reasonably accurate sales estimate in the first place. The experience of teaching this set of micro-entrepreneurs made me start wondering about the state of primary education in our country and the implications on the supposed demographic dividend (or liability) for our future.

In fact, as data from Pratham’s ASER survey shows, it’s no surprise that so many of the adult learners struggled with division; even today, only 25% of children in class V can solve a division problem, and this proportion rises to only 46% of students in class VIII (wait for our next post for more information and some interesting infographics on this).

  • Zenobia Driver

May 13, 2014 at 4:47 pm 2 comments

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