rice is a nonprofit research organization, dedicated to understanding the lives of poor people, especially young children, in India, and to promoting their well-being.
rice was founded by three friends from graduate school who believed that they could accomplish more by working together, making long-term commitments to the society they study, and selecting research agendas with attention to what is likely to be helpful. We hope to cultivate a community of researchers committed to learning about the lives of the poor and to sharing what we learn.
rice is still new, but in the next few years, we plan to grow into our goals:
- To use research to advance knowledge about the lives of the poor in India, with a special focus on children’s health.
- To share what we learn with government officials and other researchers, and to learn-by-doing how our research might contribute to the well-being of the poor.
- To promote complementary research by providing support for other researchers and training to promising students.
Did you know that the latest nationally representative survey of Indian children found that the average Indian five year old is about 10 centimeters shorter than a healthy child would be?
The fact that Indian children do not reach their height potential suggests that they face many threats to their health very early in life. Researchers now understand that the effects of these early deficits which stunt children’s growth will stay with them throughout their lives—they will also suffer from stunted cognitive potential, less economic productivity, and less healthy adulthoods.
The importance of height as a marker for health and well-being has led us to focus research and advocacy energies on two important questions: Why are Indian children so short? And what can be done about it?
Here are some of the things that we’re doing to try to answer these questions:
- Establishing a link between the widespread practice of open defecation (see sanitation) and stunting, and sharing this new finding with decision makers in India
- Exploring the conditions under which a monetary prize could incentivize local leaders to encourage latrine use and decrease open defecation
- Documenting effects of social hierarchy on children’s height and health
- Exploring how the capacity of local governments and bureaucracies can be built in order to improve early life health conditions in growing children’s lives.
These are big questions and big problems, and we are excited for our growing team to make its contribution. We use econometric methods to analyze large datasets, and spend time learning from the experiences of people in Sitapur, a rural district of the state of Uttar Pradesh. As we continue learning in Delhi, Sitapur and elsewhere, you can follow RICE on our blog, or sign up under “get involved” to receive our newsletters.