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Can FAO's measure of chronic undernourishment be strengthened?

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  • Smith, Lisa C.
  • Naiken, Logan

Abstract

In its Sixth World Food Survey released at the 1996 World Food Summit, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reported that 841 million people in developing countries are chronically undernourished. This number and its country- and regional-level disaggregations have proved tremendously useful to countless aid agencies and researchers. In the context of a recent wave of new nationally-representative household food consumption and expenditure data, this paper examines the estimation methodology underlying this food insecurity indicator, which relies on national aggregate measures of food availability and distribution. The paper finds that the measure is methodologically biased toward national food availability and does not fully account for the effects of poverty—the most widespread cause of food insecurity in developing countries. The implications of this bias for use of the indicator in cross-country comparisons of food insecurity and for tracking changes in it over time are drawn out. The paper concludes by arguing that the time has come to review the potential for employing the new household survey data for strengthening the empirical foundations of the FAO's measure of chronic undernourishment.

Suggested Citation

  • Smith, Lisa C. & Naiken, Logan, 1998. "Can FAO's measure of chronic undernourishment be strengthened?," FCND discussion papers 44, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  • Handle: RePEc:fpr:fcnddp:44
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Laroche Dupraz, Catherine & Huchet Bourdon, Marilyne, 2014. "Domestic support and border measures: some instruments to reduce vulnerability of food security to trade in developing countries," 2014 International Congress, August 26-29, 2014, Ljubljana, Slovenia 182691, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    2. Laroche-Dupraz, Cathie & Huchet-Bourdon, Marilyne, 2016. "Agricultural support and vulnerability of food security to trade in developing countries," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, 2016, Boston, Massachusetts 234941, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    3. Magrini, Emiliano & Montalbano, Pierluigi & Nenci, Silvia & Salvatici, Luca, 2014. "Agricultural trade distortions during recent international price spikes: what implications for food security?," 2014 International Congress, August 26-29, 2014, Ljubljana, Slovenia 182726, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    4. Catherine Laroche-Dupraz & Marilyne Huchet-Bourdon, 2013. "Impact of domestic support and border measures for developing countries’ food security," Post-Print hal-01123056, HAL.
    5. Smith, Lisa C. & Haddad, Lawrence James, 2000. "Explaining child malnutrition in developing countries: a cross-country analysis," Research reports 111, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    6. Diaz-Bonilla, Eugenio & Robinson, Sherman & Thomas, Marcelle, 2002. "On boxes, contents, and users," TMD discussion papers 82, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    7. Joachim De Weerdt & Kathleen Beegle & Jed Friedman & John Gibson, 2016. "The Challenge of Measuring Hunger through Survey," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64(4), pages 727-758.
    8. Merlinda D. Ingco, 2003. "Agriculture, Trade, and the WTO : Creating a Trading Environment for Development," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 15208.
    9. repec:taf:jdevst:v:52:y:2016:i:9:p:1372-1387 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Diaz-Bonilla, Eugenio & Thomas, Marcelle & Robinson, Sherman & Cattaneo, Andrea, 2000. "Food security and trade negotiations in the World Trade Organization," TMD discussion papers 59, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    11. Diaz-Bonilla, Eugenio & Babinard, Julie & Pinstrup-Andersen, Per & Thomas, Marcelle, 2002. "Globalizing health benefits for developing countries," TMD discussion papers 108, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    12. Nube, M., 2001. "Confronting Dietary Energy Supply with Anthropometry in the Assessment of Undernutrition Prevalence at the Level of Countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(7), pages 1275-1289, July.
    13. Zhang, Xiaobo & Rockmore, Marc & Chamberlin, Jordan, 2007. "A typology for vulnerability and agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa:," IFPRI discussion papers 734, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    14. Smith, Lisa C. & Obeid, Amani E. El & Jensen, Helen H., 2000. "The geography and causes of food insecurity in developing countries," Agricultural Economics of Agricultural Economists, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 22(2), March.
    15. Wiesmann, Doris, 2006. "A global hunger index: measurement concept, ranking of countries, and trends," FCND discussion papers 212, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    16. Morales-Opazo, Cristian & Barreiro-Hurlé, Jesús, 2011. "Reconsiderando la metodología FAO sobre el cálculo del número de personas que pasan hambre en el mundo," Economia Agraria y Recursos Naturales, Spanish Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 11(2).
    17. repec:oup:ajagec:v:99:y:2017:i:4:p:847-871. is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Derek Headey & Olivier Ecker & Jean-Francois Trinh Tan, 2014. "Shocks to the system: monitoring food security in a volatile world," Chapters,in: Handbook on Food, chapter 3, pages 41-71 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    19. 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.
    20. Lips, Markus, 2005. "Sufficient nourishment worldwide via transfer payments," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 81-96, February.

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