Price Shocks and Food Security: Household Evidence from Afghanistan

Anna D'Souza, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Dean Jolliffe, World Bank Group

This paper investigates the impact of rising food prices – during the 2007/08 global food crisis – on food security in Afghanistan. Exploiting the temporal stratification of a unique nationally-representative household survey, we find evidence of large declines in real per capita food consumption and in food security (i.e., calorie intake and dietary diversity) corresponding to the price shocks. The data reveal smaller price elasticities with respect to calories than with respect to food consumption, suggesting that households trade off quality for quantity (moving towards staples and away from nutrient-rich foods such as meat and vegetables). Additionally, we observe Giffen good properties, i.e., increased demand in the face of price increases, for staple foods (wheat) in urban areas. Our work improves upon country-level simulation studies by providing estimates of actual household wellbeing before and during the height of the food crisis in one of the world’s poorest, most food-insecure countries.

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Presented in Session 114: Consequences of Economic Downturns