Food Insecurity and Insufficiency at Low Levels of Food Expenditures

23 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2011

See all articles by Craig Gundersen

Craig Gundersen

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA); Iowa State University

David C. Ribar

University of Melbourne

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: December 2011


In this study we investigate the external validity of the food insecurity and insufficiency measures - specifically, how these measures correlate with food expenditures - using the December 2003 Food Security Supplement of the Current Population Survey. We focus on a special segment of the population - households with low incomes and low food expenditures. If reports of food problems are based on a lack of food, reports should be nearly ubiquitous at the bottom of the expenditure distribution. We find, however, that this is not the case. We define and scale food expenditures several different ways and find that the reported incidence of food insecurity never rises above oneā€half anywhere along the corresponding expenditure distributions, leading to concerns about the external validity of the measure.

Keywords: food insecurity, food insufficiency, food expenditures, validation, Current Population Survey

JEL Classification: I32, D12

Suggested Citation

Gundersen, Craig and Ribar, David C., Food Insecurity and Insufficiency at Low Levels of Food Expenditures (December 2011). Review of Income and Wealth, Vol. 57, Issue 4, pp. 704-726, 2011. Available at SSRN: or

Craig Gundersen (Contact Author)

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) ( email )

1301 New York Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20250
United States

Iowa State University ( email )

613 Wallace Road
Ames, IA 50011
United States

David C. Ribar

University of Melbourne ( email )

+61 3 8344 2794 (Phone)

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