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Was the global food crisis really a crisis?: Simulations versus self-reporting

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  • Headey, Derek

Abstract

Estimates by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the World Bank concerning the welfare impact of the 2007/08 global food crisis conclude that between 75 million and 160 million people were thrown into hunger or poverty. However, these simulation-based approaches suffer from inherent deficiencies as well as insufficient coverage of the largest developing countries, especially China and India. This paper therefore assesses the usefulness of an alternative to simulation-based approaches, self-reported food insecurity data from the Gallup World Poll (GWP), a survey conducted before, during, and after the 2007/08 crisis. While these data are still less than ideal, we show that trends in self-reported food insecurity are statistically explained by both food inflation (positively) and economic growth (negatively). This validation motivates us to employ the GWP data as a barometer for the welfare impacts of the global food crisis. Our findings suggest that while there was tremendous variation in trends across countries, global self-reported food insecurity fell from 2005 to 2008, with the most plausible lower- and upper-bound estimates ranging from 60 million to 250 million fewer food-insecure people over that period. These results are clearly driven by rapid economic growth and very limited food price inflation in the world's most populous countries, particularly China and India. Hence, self-reported indicators of food insecurity reveal a trend opposite that of simulation-based approaches.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in its series IFPRI discussion papers with number 1087.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:fpr:ifprid:1087

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Keywords: global food crisis; Hunger; Poverty; self-reported indicators;

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Cited by:
  1. Haughton, Jonathan & Khandker, Shahidur R., 2012. "The surprising effects of the great recession : losers and winners in Thailand in 2008-2009," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6255, The World Bank.
  2. Aye, Goodness C., 2012. "The Long and Short Run Impacts of Food and Energy Price Shocks: Evidence from Nigeria," 2012 Conference (56th), February 7-10, 2012, Freemantle, Australia 125048, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
  3. von Braun, Joachim & Tadesse, Getaw, 2012. "Global Food Price Volatility and Spikes: An Overview of Costs, Causes, and Solutions," Discussion Papers 120021, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF).

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