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Food Insecurity and COVID-19 Risk in Low- and Middle-income Countries

AAEA member and co-authors releases new research in AEPP

Several governments have been trying to modify existing social protection programs and expand the base of beneficiaries to address concerns over economic precocity during the pandemic. New research develops a clearer picture of which groups are vulnerable to food insecurity and the source of that food insecurity during the pandemic.

In the recent article “Food insecurity and COVID‐19 risk in low‐ and middle‐income countries” Valerie Mueller and Bianca Navia from Arizona State University, Karen Grepin and Nicole Wu from the School of Public Health at the University of Hong Kong, Atonu Rabbani from the BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health and the University of Dhaka, and Anne Ngunjiri from LVCT Health explore the social and economic impacts of the pandemic on men and women in Bangladesh, Kenya and Nigeria.

The authors say, “We found that the perceived presence of COVID-19 in personal networks was positively associated with food insecurity in Bangladesh at the extensive margin. Food insecurity was measured by whether the household reported to not have sufficient financial resources to buy food in the last 7 days. In Kenya, households had a greater likelihood of experiencing extreme values of a food insecurity index, conditional on being food insecure. We also evaluated the types of shocks realized and coping strategies adopted by these households in places with increased risk. In Kenya, risk was positively associated with business closures and reducing food consumption, which suggests that there may have been fewer alternative available to buffer against the shock.”

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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 two journals, 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

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