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Matching food with mouths: A statistical explanation to the abnormal decline of per capita food consumption in rural China

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  • Yu, Xiaohua
  • Abler, David

Abstract

This study provides an alternative explanation for the unusual apparent decline in food consumption in rural China after 2000. We find that it is mainly attributable to significant measurement errors in the Chinese Rural Household Survey and the calculation of per capita food consumption. In a household survey, total consumption for a household in a certain period is often well recorded, and per capita consumption is obtained by dividing total consumption by household size. Such a calculation of per capita food consumption is vulnerable to a mismatch between food and mouths. Total consumption may be subject to measurement errors caused primarily by food away from home (FAFH). Also, the household size recorded in the survey is not necessarily the same as the number of mouths (consumption household size), who consume the food recorded in the survey. Our results indicate that per capita food consumption in rural China is currently being underestimated by about 30%. Our results also indicate that income elasticities of food consumption are greater than measured elasticities based on the Rural Household Survey data. A direct policy implication for avoiding statistical errors in calculating per capita consumption would be correctly recording the consumption household size corresponding to total consumption in household surveys.

Suggested Citation

  • Yu, Xiaohua & Abler, David, 2016. "Matching food with mouths: A statistical explanation to the abnormal decline of per capita food consumption in rural China," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 36-43.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:63:y:2016:i:c:p:36-43
    DOI: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2016.06.009
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    Cited by:

    1. Xiaoheng Zhang & Feng Chu & Xiaohua Yu & Yingheng Zhou & Xu Tian & Xianhui Geng & Jinyang Yang, 2017. "Changing Structure and Sustainable Development for China’s Hog Sector," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(1), pages 1-15, January.
    2. repec:eee:jfpoli:v:73:y:2017:i:c:p:62-74 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Food demand; Underreporting; Rural China; Food away from home; Off-farm migration;

    JEL classification:

    • Q11 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Aggregate Supply and Demand Analysis; Prices
    • C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data; Data Access
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products

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