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How Have Agricultural Policies Influenced Caloric Consumption In The United States?

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  • Bradley J. Rickard
  • Abigail M. Okrent
  • Julian M. Alston

Abstract

Many commentators have speculated that agricultural policies have contributed to increased obesity rates in the United States, yet such claims are often made without any analysis of the complex links between real‐world farm commodity support programs, prices and consumption of foods, and caloric intake. This article carefully studies the effects of US agricultural policies on prices and quantities of 10 agricultural commodities and nine food categories in the United States over time. Using a detailed multimarket model, we simulate the counterfactual removal of measures of support applied to US agricultural commodities in 1992, 1997, and 2002 and quantify the effects on US food consumption and caloric intake. To parameterize the simulations, we calculate three alternative measures of consumer support (the implicit consumer subsidy from policies that support producers) for the 10 agricultural commodities using information about government expenditures on agricultural commodities from various sources. Our results indicate that—holding all other policies constant—removing US subsidies on grains and oilseeds in the three periods would have caused caloric consumption to decrease minimally whereas removal of all US agricultural policies (including barriers against imports of sugar and dairy products) would have caused total caloric intake to increase. Our results also indicate that the influence of agricultural policies on caloric intake has diminished over time. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Bradley J. Rickard & Abigail M. Okrent & Julian M. Alston, 2013. "How Have Agricultural Policies Influenced Caloric Consumption In The United States?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(3), pages 316-339, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:22:y:2013:i:3:p:316-339
    DOI: 10.1002/hec.2799
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    Cited by:

    1. Abigail M. Okrent & Julian M. Alston, 2012. "The Effects of Farm Commodity and Retail Food Policies on Obesity and Economic Welfare in the United States," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 94(3), pages 611-646.
    2. Benjamin Scharadin & Edward C. Jaenicke, 2020. "Time spent on childcare and the household Healthy Eating Index," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 18(2), pages 357-386, June.
    3. Julian M. Alston & Joanna P. MacEwan & Abigail M. Okrent, 2016. "Effects of U.S. Public Agricultural R&D on U.S. Obesity and its Social Costs," Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 38(3), pages 492-520.
    4. Hawkes, Corinna & Friel, Sharon & Lobstein, Tim & Lang, Tim, 2012. "Linking agricultural policies with obesity and noncommunicable diseases: A new perspective for a globalising world," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 343-353.
    5. Alston, Julian M. & Pardey, Philip G., 2014. "Agricultural R&D, Food Prices, Poverty and Malnutrition Redux," Staff Papers 162413, University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics.
    6. Wilson, Wylin D. & Warren, Reuben C. & Sodeke, Stephen O. & Wilson, Norbert, 2013. "The Fate of Local Food Systems in the Global Industrialization Market: Food and Social Justice in the Rural South," Professional Agricultural Workers Journal (PAWJ), Professional Agricultural Workers Conference, vol. 1(1), pages 1-9.
    7. Nadia A. Streletskaya & Wansopin Amatyakul & Pimbucha Rusmevichientong & Harry M. Kaiser & Jura Liaukonyte, 2016. "Menu‐Labeling Formats and Their Impact on Dietary Quality," Agribusiness, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 32(2), pages 175-188, April.
    8. Alston, Julian M. & Okrent, Abigail M. & Parks, Joanna, 2013. "Effects of U.S. Public Agricultural R&D on U.S. Obesity and its Social Costs- Revised," Working Papers 162530, Robert Mondavi Institute Center for Wine Economics.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy

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