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Explaining the African food riots of 2007–2008: An empirical analysis

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  • Berazneva, Julia
  • Lee, David R.

Abstract

A sharp escalation in worldwide commodity prices precipitated the global food crisis of 2007–2008, affecting the majority of the world’s poor, causing protests in developing countries and presenting policymakers with the challenge of simultaneously addressing hunger, poverty, and political instability. These food price shocks fomented violent civil responses in some countries, but not others, offering a unique opportunity to assess the factors that contributed to these disturbances. We explore this question empirically with specific reference to Africa, where “food riots” occurred in at least 14 countries. By examining the socio-economic and political conditions facing African countries, we attempt to answer why only some countries in Africa witnessed food riots in late 2007 and early 2008, while others did not. Our empirical analysis demonstrates that higher levels of poverty (as proxied by the Human Poverty Index), restricted access to and availability of food, urbanization, a coastal location, more oppressive regimes and stronger civil societies are associated with a higher likelihood of riots occurring. We also examine three country cases (Egypt, Mozambique, Niger) which represent different circumstances and responses to the food crisis, and identify specific factors that were associated with food protests in each case. Our study highlights the importance of pro-poor policies and investments and improved governance in addressing the problems facing the poor and in helping secure political stability. As the frequency and variability of natural disasters increase in response to climate change, such policies can serve to protect the poor from the debilitating consequences of the resulting shocks.

Suggested Citation

  • Berazneva, Julia & Lee, David R., 2013. "Explaining the African food riots of 2007–2008: An empirical analysis," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 28-39.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:39:y:2013:i:c:p:28-39
    DOI: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2012.12.007
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:jfpoli:v:69:y:2017:i:c:p:243-255 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Elleby, Christian, 2014. "Poverty and Price Transmission," 2014 International Congress, August 26-29, 2014, Ljubljana, Slovenia 182722, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    3. Marco Manacorda & Andrea Tesei, 2016. "Liberation Technology: Mobile Phones and Political Mobilization in Africa," HiCN Working Papers 217, Households in Conflict Network.
    4. Cormac Ó Gráda, 2016. "“The Last, the Most Dreadful Resource of Nature”: Economic-Historical Reflections on Famine," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 44(2), pages 225-241, June.
    5. Popescu Maria-Floriana, 2015. "The Role Of Energy In Ecological Sustainability," Annals of Faculty of Economics, University of Oradea, Faculty of Economics, vol. 1(1), pages 304-312, July.
    6. Almer, C & Laurent-Lucchetti, Jeremy & Oechslin, Manuel, 2014. "Agricultural shocks and riots:A disaggregated analysis," Department of Economics Working Papers 40956, University of Bath, Department of Economics.
    7. Farley, Joshua & Costanza, Robert & Flomenhoft, Gary & Kirk, Daniel, 2015. "The Vermont Common Assets Trust: An institution for sustainable, just and efficient resource allocation," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 71-79.
    8. Le Billon, Philippe & Pérez Niño, Helena, 2013. "Foreign Aid, Resource Rents and Institution-Building in Mozambique and Angola," WIDER Working Paper Series 102, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    9. Maiga, Eugenie W. H., 2016. "Determinants of changes in youth and women agricultural labor participation in selected African countries," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, 2016, Boston, Massachusetts 235997, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    10. Alexander F. Legwegoh & Evan D. G. Fraser & Krishna Bahadur KC & Philip Antwi-Agyei, 2015. "Do Dietary Changes Increase the Propensity of Food Riots? An Exploratory Study of Changing Consumption Patterns and the Inclination to Engage in Food-Related Protests," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(10), pages 1-21, October.
    11. Christian Almer & Jeremy Laurent-Lucchetti & Manuel Oechslin, 2014. "Growth Poles: Agricultural Shocks and Riots: A Disaggregated Analysis," Research Papers by the Institute of Economics and Econometrics, Geneva School of Economics and Management, University of Geneva 14093, Institut d'Economie et Econométrie, Université de Genève.
    12. Chen, Junyi & Kibriya, Shahriar & Bessler, David A. & Price, Edwin C., 2015. "A Causal Exploration of Food Price Shocks and Conflict in Sudan," 2015 AAEA & WAEA Joint Annual Meeting, July 26-28, San Francisco, California 202612, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association;Western Agricultural Economics Association.
    13. Alistair Watson & Eve Merton, 2013. "Food Security in Australia: Some Misplaced Enthusiasms?," Economic Papers, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 32(3), pages 317-327, September.
    14. Almer, Christian & Laurent-Lucchetti, Jérémy & oechslin, Manuel, 2011. "Income shocks and social unrest: theory and evidence," MPRA Paper 34426, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. Raj M. Desai & Nita Rudra, 2016. "Trade, poverty, and social protection in developing countries," WIDER Working Paper Series 139, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    16. Maystadt, Jean-François & Trinh Tan, Jean-François & Breisinger, Clemens, 2014. "Does food security matter for transition in Arab countries?," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 106-115.
    17. repec:eee:wdevel:v:96:y:2017:i:c:p:578-590 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. repec:fpr:ifprib:9780896292710 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Chen, Junyi & Kibriya, Shahriar & Bessler, David & Price, Edwin, 2015. "A Causal Exploration of Conflict Events and Commodity Prices of Sudan," MPRA Paper 62461, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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