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Food Insecurity and Insufficiency at Low Levels of Food Expenditures

  • Gundersen, Craig

    ()

    (University of Illinois at Chicago)

  • Ribar, David C.

    ()

    (University of Melbourne)

This study uses data from the December 2003 Food Security Supplement of the CPS to compare the food insufficiency and insecurity measures with objective measures of food expenditures and objective and subjective measures of food needs. The study examines the general relationships between these variables and finds that reports of food hardships are positively associated with food expenditures and negatively associated with needs. The study goes on to examine reports of food hardships at low very levels of food expenditures, where we conjecture that most people should experience food problems. When expenditures are scaled by an objective measure of needs, there is no point along the expenditure distribution where more than half of the survey respondents report experiencing being food insufficient or insecure. However, when expenditures are scaled by a subjective threshold, we observe near-universal reporting of food problems at low levels of expenditures. The findings indicate that the food insufficiency and insecurity measures each incorporate a large subjective component, which limits the usefulness of the measures for comparing the extent of food hardships across populations or over time or evaluating the effects of assistance programs.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1594.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: May 2005
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Review of Income and Wealth, 2011, 57 (4), 704-726.
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1594
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  1. Gundersen, Craig & Weinreb, Linda & Wehler, Cheryl & Hosmer, David, 2003. "Homelessness and food insecurity," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 250-272, September.
  2. Craig Gundersen & Victor Oliveira, 2001. "The Food Stamp Program and Food Insufficiency," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 83(4), pages 875-887.
  3. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 2004. "Subjective Outcomes in Economics," NBER Working Papers 10361, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Borjas, George J., 2004. "Food insecurity and public assistance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1421-1443, July.
  5. Kapteyn, A.J. & Kooreman, P. & Willemse, R., 1987. "Some methodological issues in the implementation of subjective poverty definitions," Research Memorandum FEW 245, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  6. repec:ner:tilbur:urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-364358 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Ribar, David C. & Hamrick, Karen S., 2003. "Dynamics Of Poverty And Food Sufficiency," Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Reports 33851, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  8. Bhattacharya, Jayanta & Currie, Janet & Haider, Steven, 2004. "Poverty, food insecurity, and nutritional outcomes in children and adults," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 839-862, July.
  9. Mazur, Robert E & Marquis, Grace S & Jensen, Helen H., 2003. "Diet and Food Insufficiency Among Hispanic Youth: Acculturation and Socioeconomic Determinants in Nhanes III," Staff General Research Papers 10668, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
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