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Food security and wheat prices in Afghanistan : a distribution-sensitive analysis of household-level impacts

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  • D'Souza, Anna
  • Jolliffe, Dean

Abstract

This paper investigates the impact of increases in wheat flour prices on household food security using unique nationally-representative data collected in Afghanistan from 2007 to 2008. It uses a new estimator, the Unconditional Quantile Regression estimator, based on influence functions, to examine the marginal effects of price increases at different locations on the distributions of several food security measures. The estimates reveal that the negative marginal effect of a price increase on food consumption is two and a half times larger for households that can afford to cut the value of food consumption (75th quantile) than for households at the bottom (25th quantile) of the food-consumption distribution. Similarly, households with diets high in calories reduce intake substantially, but those at the bottom of the calorie distribution (25th quantile) make very small changes in intake as a result of the price increases. In contrast, households at the bottom of the dietary diversity distribution make the largest adjustments in the quality of their diets, since such households often live at subsistence levels and cannot make large cuts in caloric intake without suffering serious health consequences. These results provide empirical evidence that when faced with staple-food price increases, food-insecure households sacrifice quality (diversity) in order to protect calories. The large differences in behavioral responses of households that lie at the top and bottom of these distributions suggest that policy analyses relying solely on ordinary least squares estimates may be misleading.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 6024.

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Date of creation: 01 Apr 2012
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6024

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Keywords: Food&Beverage Industry; Regional Economic Development; Rural Poverty Reduction; Markets and Market Access;

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  1. Nguyen, Binh T. & Albrecht, James W. & Vroman, Susan B. & Westbrook, M. Daniel, 2007. "A quantile regression decomposition of urban-rural inequality in Vietnam," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 466-490, July.
  2. Diagana, Bocar & Akindes, Francis & Savadogo, Kimseyinga & Reardon, Thomas & Staatz, John, 1999. "Effects of the CFA franc devaluation on urban food consumption in West Africa: overview and cross-country comparisons," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(5), pages 465-478, October.
  3. Koenker, Roger & Bassett, Gilbert, Jr, 1982. "Robust Tests for Heteroscedasticity Based on Regression Quantiles," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(1), pages 43-61, January.
  4. Anna D'Souza & Dean Jolliffe, 2012. "Rising Food Prices and Coping Strategies: Household-level Evidence from Afghanistan," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 48(2), pages 282-299, August.
  5. Robert T. Jensen & Nolan H. Miller, 2008. "The impact of food price increases on caloric intake in China," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 39(s1), pages 465-476, November.
  6. Chabot, Philippe & Dorosh, Paul A., 2007. "Wheat markets, food aid and food security in Afghanistan," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 334-353, June.
  7. D'Souza, Anna & Jolliffe, Dean, 2010. "Food Security in Afghanistan: Household-level Evidence from the 2007-08 Food Price Crisis," 2010 Annual Meeting, July 25-27, 2010, Denver, Colorado 61139, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
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