Handbook on Food
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Handbook on Food

Demand, Supply, Sustainability and Security

Edited by Raghbendra Jha, Raghav Gaiha and Anil B. Deolalikar

The global population is forecasted to reach 9.4 billion by 2050, with much of this increase concentrated in developing regions and cities. Ensuring adequate food and nourishment to this large population is a pressing economic, moral and even security challenge and requires research (and action) from a multi-disciplinary perspective. This book provides the first such integrated approach to tackling this problem by addressing the multiplicity of challenges posed by rising global population, diet diversification and urbanization in developing countries and climate change.
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Chapter 2: The political economy of food security: a behavioral perspective

C. Peter Timmer


This chapter makes three basic points. First, from a political economy perspective, food security is intimately connected to volatility of staple food prices. Second, policy makers respond to this connection by focusing policy attention and fiscal resources on preventing and coping with volatile food prices, but these resources have opportunity costs in terms of slower economic growth in the long run. And third, policy makers are right to do this, because their political constituents have deep, visceral responses to volatile food prices, especially to food price spikes, that are based in behavioral psychology. The basic argument of the chapter is that new understanding from behavioral economics provides a solid foundation for a political economy of food security that moves away from the narrow assumptions of neoclassical economics, especially trade theory, to a more realistic framework that identifies why the vast majority of consumers and producers want stable food prices. From this understanding flows a much clearer approach to how and when to stabilize food prices.

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