Nutrition is the process of being nourished; food gets into the body, and body absorbs nutrients. On the other hand, efficiency indicates the total amount of output per unit of labour.
It is output in per capita terms. Good nutrition is beyond what is seen and observed. It not only makes us wealthy and happy but very efficient as well because it enables people to work and produce more.
As we know, we have been struggling with COVID-19 for last more than two years and it has affected almost everything, and our nutrition levels and efficiency levels are no exception.
COVID-19 dipped both nutrition and efficiency levels. It affected all nutrition and efficiency related factors in a negative way which is why the nexus between nutrition and efficiency needs to be revisited.
Indian economy is full of bad characteristics and undernourishment and inefficiency are two main characteristics that have helped the vicious circle of poverty to continue.
Therefore, there is a bad interface between nutrition and efficiency which gets worse with every COVID pandemic passing day.
Furthermore, there is a complementarity between nutrition and efficiency. It is not wrong to argue bi-way causality between the two. Nutrition affects efficiency and in turn efficiency affects nutrition.
Different dimensions of labour productivity or efficiency get affected by nutrition and the critical dimensions of labour productivity affected by nutrition include labour time and intensity of work.
COVID-19, which is a big health shock facing every economy, affected the critical dimensions of both nutrition and labour productivity. It reduced both labour time as well as the intensity of work. COVID-19 invited low immunity, poor health, inadequate food intake, and other bad economic, social and health factors.
All these factors in turn reduced nutritional status of individual. Reduced nutritional status of individual imposes a ceiling upon physical effort, reduces physical fitness, and decreases the incidence and severity of morbidity.
A ceiling upon work effort, poor physical fitness, and lower morbidity reduces work performance of the individual and reduces work time of the individual.
Health and economic outcomes are linked to each other in a causality way in both directions. Firstly, higher income leads to higher capital investment, of which health is one aspect.
Secondly, a good health causes an increase in efficiency because the worker is more energetic and less vulnerable to disease. Health and economic outcomes are hit very hard by the wave of COVID-19.
The adults in poor economies are more likely to be affected with health problems than those in rich economies. Likewise, the adults in poor countries are more likely to be affected with COVID related problems than those in rich countries.
This results in reduced efficiency levels because the worker in poor countries like India depends upon strength and endurance which requires healthy body and healthy mind (i.e. good health).
Nutrition plays a significant role in improving the levels of efficiency and accordingly gears up the process of economic growth and economic development.
The unprecedented role that nutrition can play in raising the efficiency levels in general and labour productivity levels in particular and thereby improving growth and development prospects is obviously of particular significance to underdeveloped economies.
It is important to note that in underdeveloped economies of the world, majority of the labour force consists of the poor and undernourished. A higher level of nutrition which causes higher efficiency levels at workplace is very important for attaining a level of output which is high enough to meet the basic social and economic needs of these economies.
Dr. Binish Qadri, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, Cluster
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.