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How have agricultural policies influenced caloric consumption in the United States?

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

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 U.S. agricultural policies on prices and quantities of ten 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 U.S. agricultural commodities in 1992, 1997, and 2002, and quantify the effects on U.S. 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 ten agricultural commodities using information about government expenditures on agricultural commodities from various sources. Our results indicate that removing subsidies on grains and oilseeds in the three time periods would have caused caloric consumption to decrease minimally while removal of all 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Rickard, Bradley J. & Okrent, Abigail M. & Alston, Julian M., 2011. "How have agricultural policies influenced caloric consumption in the United States?," Working Papers 126543, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:cudawp:126543
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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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. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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).
    6. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    agricultural policy; caloric intake; consumer support; food consumption; obesity; simulation model.; Agricultural and Food Policy; Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety; I18; Q18;

    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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