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Income growth and malnutrition in Africa: Is there a need for region-specific policies?

Patricia Melo (), Yakubu Abdul-Salam, D. Roberts, Liesbeth Colen, Sébastien Mary () and Sergio Gomez Y Paloma

No 236372, 90th Annual Conference, April 4-6, 2016, Warwick University, Coventry, UK from Agricultural Economics Society

Abstract: Regional differences in dietary patterns, food supply, and food culture can influence the relationship between income and food demand and thus the impact of income-oriented policies on undernutrition across Africa. In order to test for evidence of regional differences in income elasticities for food demand in Africa, we conduct a meta-analysis using 1,768 food-income elasticity estimates for different categories of food, 324 nutrient-income elasticity estimates, and 103 calorie-income elasticity estimates, extracted from 66 studies covering 48 African countries. One key contribution of this study is that it considers nutrient- and food-income elasticities besides calorie-income elasticities, allowing us to explore issues relating to calorie (i.e. energy) deficiency as well as malnutrition. We find that heterogeneity in the income elasticities can be explained by both differences in primary study characteristics (e.g. data, methodology) and the characteristics of the countries to which the income elasticities refer. The findings for food groups suggest there are significant regional differences in the size of the income elasticities. Some of the regional differences can be related to differences in diet and food supply structures across Africa but there may be other factors captured by the geographic variables (e.g. socio-cultural practices). In terms of country-level characteristics, the demand for calories, nutrients, and food becomes less responsive to changes in income as countries become more urbanised. The effect of economic growth is complex and appears to vary according to the type of income elasticity. The overall food-income elasticity appears to decline with income growth, and the relation holds for cereals, dairy and fruit and vegetables, although it is weaker for the other main food groups. Interestingly, we find a positive relation between a country’s economic growth and the magnitude of the nutrient-income elasticity and that economic growth is associated with increased demand for foods with greater nutrient content but fewer, or no additional, calories. Further country-specific analysis is needed to ensure that income-based policies targeting undernourishment and malnutrition in Africa achieve their goals.

Keywords: Agricultural and Food Policy; Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety; Food Security and Poverty (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 32
Date: 2016-04
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-agr, nep-dev and nep-gro
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DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.236372

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