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What do we really know? Metrics for food insecurity and undernutrition

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  • de Haen, Hartwig
  • Klasen, Stephan
  • Qaim, Matin

Abstract

In this article, we critically review the three most common approaches of assessing chronic food insecurity and undernutrition: (i) the FAO indicator of undernourishment, (ii) household food consumption surveys, and (iii) childhood anthropometrics. There is a striking and worrying degree of inconsistency when one compares available estimates, which is due to methodological and empirical problems associated with all three approaches. Hence, the true extent of food insecurity and undernutrition is unknown. We discuss strengths and weaknesses of each approach and make concrete suggestions for improvement, which also requires additional research. A key component will be the planning and implementation of more comprehensive, standardized, and timely household surveys that cover food consumption and anthropometry, in addition to other socioeconomic and health variables. Such combined survey data will allow much better assessment of the problems’ magnitude, as well as of trends, driving forces, and appropriate policy responses.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Food Policy.

Volume (Year): 36 (2011)
Issue (Month): 6 ()
Pages: 760-769

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:36:y:2011:i:6:p:760-769

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/foodpol

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Keywords: Food security measurement; Hunger; Undernutrition; FAO indicator of undernourishment; Household surveys; Anthropometrics;

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References

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  1. Mark Misselhorn, 2010. "Undernutrition and the Nutrition Transition: Revising the undernutrition aspect of MDG I," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 35, Courant Research Centre PEG.
  2. Carola Gruen & Stephan Klasen, 2008. "Growth, inequality, and welfare: comparisons across space and time," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(2), pages 212-236, April.
  3. Prabhu Pingali, 2004. "Westernization of Asian Diets and the Transformation of Food Systems: Implications for research and policy," Working Papers 04-17, Agricultural and Development Economics Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO - ESA).
  4. Ecker, Olivier & Weinberger, Katinka & Qaim, Matin, 2010. "Patterns and determinants of dietary micronutrient deficiencies in rural areas of East Africa," Journal of Cooperatives, NCERA-210, vol. 4(2), June.
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  6. Masset, Edoardo, 2011. "A review of hunger indices and methods to monitor country commitment to fighting hunger," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(S1), pages S102-S108.
  7. Babatunde, Raphael O. & Qaim, Matin, 2010. "Impact of Off-farm Income on Food Security and Nutrition in Nigeria," 2010 AAAE Third Conference/AEASA 48th Conference, September 19-23, 2010, Cape Town, South Africa 97332, African Association of Agricultural Economists (AAAE);Agricultural Economics Association of South Africa (AEASA).
  8. Klasen, Stephan, 2007. "Poverty, Undernutrition, and Child Mortality: Some Inter-Regional Puzzles and their Implications for Research and Policy," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Göttingen 2007 17, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
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  11. Bouis, Howarth & Haddad, Lawrence & Kennedy, Eileen, 1992. "Does it matter how we survey demand for food?: Evidence from Kenya and the Philippines," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 17(5), pages 349-360, October.
  12. Matin Qaim & Alexander J. Stein & J. V. Meenakshi, 2007. "Economics of biofortification," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 37(s1), pages 119-133, December.
  13. Masset, Edoardo, 2011. "A review of hunger indices and methods to monitor country commitment to fighting hunger," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(Supplemen), pages S102-S108, January.
  14. Behrman, Jere R & Deolalikar, Anil B, 1987. "Will Developing Country Nutrition Improve with Income? A Case Study for Rural South India," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(3), pages 492-507, June.
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  16. Svedberg, Peter, 2002. "Undernutrition Overestimated," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(1), pages 5-36, October.
  17. Ecker, Olivier & Qaim, Matin, 2011. "Analyzing Nutritional Impacts of Policies: An Empirical Study for Malawi," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 412-428, March.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Fischer, Elisabeth & Qaim, Matin, 2012. "Gender, Agricultural Commercialization, and Collective Action in Kenya," 2012 Conference, August 18-24, 2012, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil 126659, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
  2. Fischer, Elisabeth & Qaim, Matin, 2012. "Gender, Agricultural Commercialization, and Collective Action in Kenya," Discussion Papers 121229, Georg-August-Universitaet Goettingen, GlobalFood, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development.
  3. Kabunga, Nassul S. & Dubois, Thomas & Qaim, Matin, 2014. "Impact of tissue culture banana technology on farm household income and food security in Kenya," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 25-34.
  4. Roemling, Cornelia & Qaim, Matin, 2013. "Dual burden households and intra-household nutritional inequality in Indonesia," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 563-573.
  5. Kabunga, Nassul Ssentamu & Ghosh, Shibani & Griffiths, Jeffrey K., 2014. "Can smallholder fruit and vegetable production systems improve household food security and nutritional status of women? Evidence from rural Uganda:," IFPRI discussion papers 1346, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  6. Roemling, Cornelia & Qaim, Matin, 2012. "Dual Burden Households and Nutritional Inequality in Indonesia," Discussion Papers 126943, Georg-August-Universitaet Goettingen, GlobalFood, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development.
  7. Pangaribowo, Evita Hanie & Gerber, Nicolas & Torero, Maximo, 2013. "Food and Nutrition Security Indicators: A Review," Working Papers 147911, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF).
  8. Stein, Alexander J., 2013. "Rethinking the measurement of undernutrition in a broader health context: Should we look at possible causes or actual effects:," IFPRI discussion papers 1298, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  9. Nassul S. Kabunga & Thomas Dubois & Matin Qaim, 2011. "Impact of Tissue Culture Banana Technology on Farm Household Income and Food Security in Kenya," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 89, Courant Research Centre PEG.
  10. Headey, Derek D. & Ecker, Olivier, 2012. "Improving the measurement of food security:," IFPRI discussion papers 1225, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

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