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Assessing the Affordability of Nutrient-Adequate Diets

AAEA members release new research in AJAE

How can one estimate the cost of food for a whole household that would meet everyone's nutrition requirements? The least expensive way would be to treat individuals as independent agents meeting their own needs, and summing up over all household members. But families eat together. So the upper bound on the cost for everyone would be a shared diet that meets everyone's needs.

In the new paper published in the AJAE entitled “Assessing the Affordability of Nutrient-Adequate Diets” Kate Schneider from Johns Hopkins University, Luc Christiaensen from the World Bank, Patrick Webb from Tufts University and William Masters from Tufts University, estimate the monthly cost at both bounds using linear optimization (least-cost diet) for every household in rural from January 2013-July 2017.

Schneider says, “We found that only a minority of households can access the nutrient-adequate diet at either bound, with the shared diet only feasible 60% of the time (90% feasibility for the individualized diet). And despite the potential to substitute across foods to meet nutrient needs, there is still substantial seasonality in both feasibility and cost of the diet.” This paper is part of a trio, and in one of the related papers Schneider aimed to understand the infeasibility results and the cost drivers.

If you are interested in setting up an interview, please contact Allison Ware in the AAEA Business Office.

ABOUT AAEA: Established in 1910, the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) is the leading professional association for agricultural and applied economists, with 2,500 members in more than 60 countries. Members of the AAEA work in academic or government institutions as well as in industry and not-for-profit organizations, and engage in a variety of research, teaching, and outreach activities in the areas of agriculture, the environment, food, health, and international development. The AAEA publishes three journals, the Journal of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (an open access journal), the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, as well as the online magazine Choices and the online open access publication series Applied Economics Teaching Resources. To learn more, visit

Contact: Allison Ware
Senior Communications & Membership Manager
(414) 918-3190