Cost of Living
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Delhi city is now the most expensive place to live in in the country. Official data for the six years from 2004-05 to 2009-10 shows that spending on essential food and non-food items rose 75% and 78% respectively, and the city's monthly per capita expenditure of Rs 2,905 in 2009-10 was the highest across India.
While the average family size shrank over the years, household expenditure continued rising at a clip, the government's latest report shows. Monthly per capita expenditure on food, medical treatment, education and rent increased the most in the six years to 2009-10. In that year, the average urban Delhiite was spending 36% of his income on food. The report shows expenditure on non-food items like medical treatment, education, rent, services like maids, and durables like washing machines also increased tremendously.
Hospital expenses showed the highest increase of 240% compared to the average for 2004. The per capita monthly expenditure on medicines and tests done outside hospitals also increased 129%. The average increase in rents during the period was 186% and education became dearer by 126%. Expenditure on treatment, education and rent emerged as a heavy cost.
The report shows that in urban areas about 36% of monthly per capita expenditure was on food items and the remaining on non-food items. Around 10% was spent on milk and milk products, 7% on cereals and pulses, 2% on edible oils, 4% on vegetables, and 2% on fruit. As regards non-food items, about 8% was spent on fuel, 6% on clothing and bedding, 9% on education, 2% on medical treatment and 7% on rent. Under the food head, the maximum increase was in spices (131%) and cereals (85%). Both articles are prime components of a family's diet and wheat remains the dietary staple.
While increase in food expenditure can be attributed to rising inflation, Delhiites are shelling out much more on providing education to their children, medical treatment to the ailing and rent for houses. Increase in expenditure on durables like washing machines, refrigerators and air conditioners stands at 105% and spending on consumer services like repairs, maids and security services has gone up by 46%, compared to 2004.
The report paints a profile of urban Delhi. Around 90% of the households use LPG as cooking fuel, 64% live in their own houses and 15.31% (5.61 lakh) have Internet connections. Overall, Delhi bears an urban imprint with the average household size in urban areas being less than 4.5 persons and the average number of children per household at 1.17.