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On the composite indicators for food security: Decisions matter!

Listed author(s):
  • Santeramo, Fabio Gaetano

During the past decades, there has been much debate on food security. A variety of indicators have been proposed in order to establish which countriesare in need of improved food security status. The heterogeneity of existing indicators and the lack of consensus on how to compare and rank countries have motivated international organizations to build composite indexes to synthesize the information. The process of building composite indexes involves multiple choices that influence the outcome. Our analysis aims at understanding how relevant and discretional may be the analyst’s choice of algorithms to compute composite indexes for food security. To this extent, we have computed several composite indexes for food security by using data provided by the Food and Agricultural Organization, which includes a large set of proxies for food security, as emerged from the Committee on World Food Security Round Table. We compare different methods to impute, homogenize, weight and aggregate data, in order to compute composite indexes and show how relevant are the choices to be made. We show that normalization and weighting are not very crucial decisions, whereas special attention has to be paid in choosing the data imputation and aggregation methods. By commenting on the implications that different measurement choices may have in terms global index, we show that the index construction decisions matter.

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File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/58955/1/MPRA_paper_58955.pdf
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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 58955.

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Date of creation: May 2014
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:58955
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  1. Pangaribowo, Evita Hanie & Gerber, Nicolas & Torero, Maximo, 2013. "Food and Nutrition Security Indicators: A Review," Working Papers 147911, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF).
  2. Carlo Cafiero, 2013. "What do we Really Know about Food Security?," NBER Working Papers 18861, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. P.-Y. Henin & Jean-Paul Pollin, 1983. "Introduction," Post-Print halshs-00288183, HAL.
  4. Michela Nardo & Michaela Saisana & Andrea Saltelli & Stefano Tarantola & Anders Hoffman & Enrico Giovannini, 2005. "Handbook on Constructing Composite Indicators: Methodology and User Guide," OECD Statistics Working Papers 2005/3, OECD Publishing.
  5. Giuseppe Munda, 2012. "Choosing Aggregation Rules for Composite Indicators," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 109(3), pages 337-354, December.
  6. Per Pinstrup-Andersen, 2009. "Food security: definition and measurement," Food Security: The Science, Sociology and Economics of Food Production and Access to Food, Springer;The International Society for Plant Pathology, vol. 1(1), pages 5-7, February.
  7. de Haen, Hartwig & Klasen, Stephan & Qaim, Matin, 2011. "What do we really know? Metrics for food insecurity and undernutrition," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(6), pages 760-769.
  8. Francesco Caracciolo & Fabio Gaetano Santeramo, 2013. "Price Trends and Income Inequalities: Will Sub-Saharan Africa Reduce the Gap?," African Development Review, African Development Bank, vol. 25(1), pages 42-54, March.
  9. Masset, Edoardo, 2011. "A review of hunger indices and methods to monitor country commitment to fighting hunger," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(S1), pages 102-108.
  10. Gabbert, Silke & Weikard, Hans-Peter, 2001. "How widespread is undernourishment?: A critique of measurement methods and new empirical results," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 209-228, June.
  11. Masset, Edoardo, 2011. "A review of hunger indices and methods to monitor country commitment to fighting hunger," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(Supplemen), pages 102-108, January.
  12. Headey, Derek D. & Ecker, Olivier, 2012. "Improving the measurement of food security:," IFPRI discussion papers 1225, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  13. Michael Freudenberg, 2003. "Composite Indicators of Country Performance: A Critical Assessment," OECD Science, Technology and Industry Working Papers 2003/16, OECD Publishing.
  14. Gentilini, Ugo & Webb, Patrick, 2008. "How are we doing on poverty and hunger reduction? A new measure of country performance," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 521-532, December.
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