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Food Security and Wheat Prices in Afghanistan: A Distribution-Sensitive Analysis of Household-Level Impacts

Author

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  • D'Souza, Anna

    () (Economic Research Service, USDA)

  • Jolliffe, Dean

    () (World Bank)

Abstract

We investigate the impact of increases in wheat flour prices on household food security using unique nationally-representative data collected in Afghanistan from 2007 to 2008. We use a new estimator, the Unconditional Quantile Regression (UQR) estimator, based on influence functions to examine the marginal effects of price increases at different locations on the distributions of several food security measures. UQR estimates reveal that the negative marginal effect of a price increase on food consumption is two and a half times larger for households that can afford to cut the value of food consumption (75th quantile) than for households at the bottom (25th quantile) of the food-consumption distribution. Similarly, households with diets high in calories reduce intake substantially, but those at the bottom of the calorie distribution (25th quantile) make very small changes in intake as a result of the price increases. In contrast, households at the bottom of the dietary diversity distribution make the largest adjustments in the quality of their diets, since such households often live at subsistence levels and cannot make large cuts in caloric intake without suffering serious health consequences. These results provide empirical evidence that when faced with staple-food price increases, food-insecure households sacrifice quality (diversity) in order to protect calories. The large differences in behavioral responses of households that lie at the top and bottom of these distributions suggest that policy analyses relying solely on OLS estimates may be misleading.

Suggested Citation

  • D'Souza, Anna & Jolliffe, Dean, 2012. "Food Security and Wheat Prices in Afghanistan: A Distribution-Sensitive Analysis of Household-Level Impacts," IZA Discussion Papers 6481, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6481
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Anna D'Souza & Dean Jolliffe, 2012. "Rising Food Prices and Coping Strategies: Household-level Evidence from Afghanistan," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 48(2), pages 282-299, August.
    2. Chabot, Philippe & Dorosh, Paul A., 2007. "Wheat markets, food aid and food security in Afghanistan," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 334-353, June.
    3. D'Souza, Anna & Jolliffe, Dean, 2010. "Rising food prices and coping strategies : household-level evidence from Afghanistan," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5466, The World Bank.
    4. Diagana, Bocar & Akindes, Francis & Savadogo, Kimseyinga & Reardon, Thomas & Staatz, John, 1999. "Effects of the CFA franc devaluation on urban food consumption in West Africa: overview and cross-country comparisons," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(5), pages 465-478, October.
    5. Deaton, Angus, 1989. "Rice Prices and Income Distribution in Thailand: A Non-parametric Analysis," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(395), pages 1-37, Supplemen.
    6. Nguyen, Binh T. & Albrecht, James W. & Vroman, Susan B. & Westbrook, M. Daniel, 2007. "A quantile regression decomposition of urban-rural inequality in Vietnam," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 466-490, July.
    7. Koenker, Roger & Bassett, Gilbert, Jr, 1982. "Robust Tests for Heteroscedasticity Based on Regression Quantiles," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(1), pages 43-61, January.
    8. Robert T. Jensen & Nolan H. Miller, 2008. "The impact of food price increases on caloric intake in China," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 39(s1), pages 465-476, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. World Bank Group, 2017. "Republic of Malawi Poverty Assessment," World Bank Other Operational Studies 26488, The World Bank.
    2. repec:sos:sosjrn:180110 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Afghanistan; food prices; wheat; food security; nutrition; poverty; quantile regression; influence functions;

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty

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