Food Security and Wheat Prices in Afghanistan: A Distribution-Sensitive Analysis of Household-Level Impacts

46 Pages Posted: 21 Apr 2012

See all articles by Anna D'Souza

Anna D'Souza

School of Public Affairs, Baruch College, CUNY

Dean Jolliffe

World Bank; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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We investigate the impact of increases in wheat flour prices on household food security using unique nationally-representative data collected in Afghanistan from 2007 to 2008. We use a new estimator, the Unconditional Quantile Regression (UQR) estimator, based on influence functions to examine the marginal effects of price increases at different locations on the distributions of several food security measures. UQR estimates reveal that the negative marginal effect of a price increase on food consumption is two and a half times larger for households that can afford to cut the value of food consumption (75th quantile) than for households at the bottom (25th quantile) of the food-consumption distribution. Similarly, households with diets high in calories reduce intake substantially, but those at the bottom of the calorie distribution (25th quantile) make very small changes in intake as a result of the price increases. In contrast, households at the bottom of the dietary diversity distribution make the largest adjustments in the quality of their diets, since such households often live at subsistence levels and cannot make large cuts in caloric intake without suffering serious health consequences. These results provide empirical evidence that when faced with staple-food price increases, food-insecure households sacrifice quality (diversity) in order to protect calories. The large differences in behavioral responses of households that lie at the top and bottom of these distributions suggest that policy analyses relying solely on OLS estimates may be misleading.

Keywords: Afghanistan, food prices, wheat, food security, nutrition, poverty, quantile regression, influence functions

JEL Classification: D12, I3

Suggested Citation

D'Souza, Anna E. and Jolliffe, Dean Mitchell, Food Security and Wheat Prices in Afghanistan: A Distribution-Sensitive Analysis of Household-Level Impacts. IZA Discussion Paper No. 6481, Available at SSRN:

Anna E. D'Souza (Contact Author)

School of Public Affairs, Baruch College, CUNY ( email )

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Dean Mitchell Jolliffe

World Bank ( email )

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Washington, DC 20433
United States


IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072


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