A Revealed Preference Approach to Measuring Hunger and Undernutrition
AbstractCaloric intake and minimum calorie thresholds are widely used in developing countries to assess hunger and nutrition, and to construct poverty lines. However, it is generally recognized that the sufficiency of an individual's caloric intake cannot be determined, due to: a lack of consensus on the true thresholds; the fact that any such thresholds are individual-varying and unobservable; imperfect nutrient absorption; and the weak and non-monotonic empirical relationship between calories and wealth. We propose a revealed preference approach to measuring hunger and undernutrition that overcomes these challenges. Low caloric intake is associated with a large utility penalty (e.g., physical discomfort). The corresponding high marginal utility of calories causes a utility-maximizing consumer to primarily consume the cheapest available source of calories (a staple). Once they have surpassed subsistence, the marginal utility of calories declines significantly and they substitute towards foods with higher levels of non-nutritional attributes (e.g., taste). Thus, though any individual's requirements are unobserved, their choice to switch away from the staple reveals they are above that requirement. Accordingly, the percent of calories obtained from the staple can be used to indicate nutritional sufficiency. We also provide an application for China that shows the desirable empirical properties of this approach.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16555.
Date of creation: Nov 2010
Date of revision:
Note: AG HC
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
- O12 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
- Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy
You can help add them by filling out this form.
CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
- Diego Ubfal, 2013.
"How General Are Time Preferences? Eliciting Good-Specific Discount Rates,"
473, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
- Ubfal, Diego, 2012. "How General Are Time Preferences? Eliciting Good-Specific Discount Rates," IZA Discussion Papers 6774, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Ingvild Almås & Anders Kjelsrud & Rohini Somanathan, 2013.
"A Behaviour-based Approach to the Estimation of Poverty in India,"
CESifo Working Paper Series
4122, CESifo Group Munich.
- Ingvild Almas & Anders Kjelsrud & Rohini Somanathan, 2013. "A Behaviour-Based Approach To The Estimation Of Poverty In India," Working papers 226, Centre for Development Economics, Delhi School of Economics.
- Headey, Derek D. & Ecker, Olivier, 2012. "Improving the measurement of food security:," IFPRI discussion papers 1225, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
- Headey, Derek & Chiu, Alice & Kadiyala, Suneetha, 2011. "Agriculture's role in the Indian enigma: Help or hindrance to the undernutrition crisis?," IFPRI discussion papers 1085, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
- Prashant Bharadwaj & Leah K. Lakdawala & Nicholas Li, 2013. "Perverse Consequences of Well Intentioned Regulation: Evidence from India's Child Labor Ban," NBER Working Papers 19602, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Fan, Linlin & Nogueira, Lia & Baylis, Katherine R., 2013. "Agricultural Market Reforms and Nutritional Transition in Rural China," 2013 Annual Meeting, August 4-6, 2013, Washington, D.C., Agricultural and Applied Economics Association 150203, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
- Prashant Bansode, 2013. "Perverse Consequences of Well Intentioned Regulation: Evidence from India's Child Labor Ban," Working Papers id:5555, eSocialSciences.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.