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Trade insulation as social protection

  • Do, Quy-Toan
  • Levchenko, Andrei A.
  • Ravallion, Martin

In a world with volatile food prices, countries have an incentive to shelter their populations from induced real income shocks. When some agents are net food producers while others are net consumers, there is scope for insurance between the two groups. A domestic social protection scheme would therefore transfer resources away from the former group to the latter in times of high food prices, and do the reverse otherwise. This paper shows that in the presence of consumer preference heterogeneity, implementing the optimal social protection policy can potentially induce higher food price volatility. Such policy indeed generates a counter-cyclical demand shock that amplifies the effects of the underlying food shortage. The results call for a reassessment of food stabilization policies. In particular, the authors urge caution against the systematic condemnation of trade insulation practices.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 6448.

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Date of creation: 01 May 2013
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6448
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  1. Anderson, Kym & Martin, Will, 2011. "Export Restrictions and Price Insulation During Commodity Price Booms," CEPR Discussion Papers 8494, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Asli Leblebicioglu, 2006. "Financial Integration, Credit Market Imperfections and Consumption Smoothing," 2006 Meeting Papers 651, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  3. Andrei A. Levchenko, 2005. "Financial Liberalization and Consumption Volatility in Developing Countries," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 52(2), pages 237-259, September.
  4. von Braun, Joachim & Ahmed, Akhter & Asenso-Okyere, Kwadwo & Fan, Shenggen & Gulati, Ashok & Hoddinott, John & Pandya-Lorch, Rajul & Rosegrant, Mark W. & Ruel, Marie & Torero, Maximo & van Rheenen, Te, 2008. "High food prices: The what, who, and how of proposed policy actions," Policy briefs 1A, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  5. Broner, Fernando A & Ventura, Jaume, 2006. "Globalization and Risk Sharing," CEPR Discussion Papers 5820, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Christophe Gouel & Sébastien Jean, 2012. "Optimal Food Price Stabilization in a Small Open Developing Country," Working Papers 2012-01, CEPII research center.
  7. Dixit, Avinash, 1987. "Trade and insurance with moral hazard," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3-4), pages 201-220, November.
  8. Ivanic, Maros & Martin, Will & Zaman, Hassan, 2011. "Estimating the short-run poverty impacts of the 2010-11 surge in food prices," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5633, The World Bank.
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