IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

World food prices and human development: Policy simulations for archetype low-income countries


  • Lofgren, Hans


In recent years, world food prices have increased and fluctuated widely. This paper explores the impact of international food prices and domestic policies on Millennium Development Goal (MDG) and macro indicators for two archetype low-income countries, a net food exporter and a net food importer, using Maquette for MDG Simulations (MAMS), a Computable General Equilibrium model. The simulations, which cover the period 2011-2025, indicate that the size of positive (negative) effects on macro and MDG indicators of a food export (import) price increase depend on the initial gross domestic product share for food exports (imports), leaving countries that are heavily involved in international food trade more exposed to international shocks. Given relatively low elasticity estimates, the impact of changes in food prices on undernourishment are relatively marginal. Flexible responses (in terms of production shares, whether output is exported or sold at home, and whether domestic demanders buy imports or domestic output) enable countries to benefit from or be less hurt by price changes. The case for policy responses to higher import prices is stronger for the net food importer. An untargeted food subsidy, financed by taxes or spending cuts, reduces undernourishment at the cost of a slight deterioration for most other indicators. By contrast, aid-financed food subsidies neutralize the negative impact of higher import prices whereas financing via domestic borrowing is counterproductive, leading to a deterioration across all indicators. If administered at moderate costs, tax-financed targeted transfers more effectively reduce headcount poverty and inequality with macroeconomic repercussions similar to those of tax-financed subsidies.

Suggested Citation

  • Lofgren, Hans, 2012. "World food prices and human development: Policy simulations for archetype low-income countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6033, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6033

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Caldes, Natalia & Coady, David & Maluccio, John A., 2006. "The cost of poverty alleviation transfer programs: A comparative analysis of three programs in Latin America," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 34(5), pages 818-837, May.
    2. Serkan Arslanalp & Fabian Bornhorst & Sanjeev Gupta & Elsa Sze, 2010. "Public Capital and Growth," IMF Working Papers 10/175, International Monetary Fund.
    3. Lofgren, Hans & Cicowiez, Martin & Diaz-Bonilla, Carolina, 2013. "MAMS – A Computable General Equilibrium Model for Developing Country Strategy Analysis," Handbook of Computable General Equilibrium Modeling, Elsevier.
    4. Robinson, Sherman & Cattaneo, Andrea & El-Said, Moataz, 1998. "Estimating a social accounting matrix using cross entropy methods:," TMD discussion papers 33, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    5. Nabil Annabi & John Cockburn & Bernard Decaluwé, 2006. "Functional Forms and Parametrization of CGE Models," Working Papers MPIA 2006-04, PEP-MPIA.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Economic Theory&Research; Food&Beverage Industry; Emerging Markets; Debt Markets; Currencies and Exchange Rates;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6033. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Roula I. Yazigi). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.