Caitlin Brown, Dominique van de Walle, Martin Ravallion, 30 March 2017

Policymakers face challenges when trying to identify the right targets for antipoverty programmes. This column assesses whether the data typically available to policymakers in sub-Saharan Africa are up to the task. Commonly used proxy means tests are found to perform worse than simpler methods in identifying poor households. Moreover, analyses of nutritional status reveal substantial inequality within households, suggesting that household-based measures are not very effective in identifying disadvantaged individuals.

Dhaval Dave, Nadia Doytch, Inas Kelly, 06 August 2016

Food consumption has increased worldwide, concurrent with rising obesity rates.  This column draws on five decades of data from 209 countries to identify trends in overall caloric intake as well as the types of foods that provide the calories. The data reveal differences between socioeconomic groups and regions that are likely to have important implications for population health. Preliminary analysis of the economic correlates suggests that GDP per capita, labour force participation and healthcare measures explain much of the rise in caloric intake.

Neeraj Kaushal, Felix Muchomba, 24 December 2013

A recent food security bill passed by the Indian government has raised criticism due to its high cost but questionable effect on nutrition. This column presents a recent study that finds the food subsidies did not improve nutrition, but affected food consumption patterns. In particular, consumption of subsidised grains increased, and consumption of some cheaper and inferior substitutes decreased.

Stefan Dercon, Albert Park, Abhijeet Singh, 25 June 2012

Despite the popularity of school meals, little evidence exists on their effect on health outcomes. This study investigates whether the school meals program in Andhra Pradesh, India, ameliorated the deterioration of health in young children caused by a severe drought.

Nathan Nunn, Nancy Qian, 05 August 2009

How important is nutrition to economic development? This column shows that the introduction of the potato can explain 22% of the rise in population and 47% of the rise in urbanisation during the 18th and 19th centuries.

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