On the Measurement of Food Insecurity: How to Account for Risk?

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This article offers a measure of food insecurity. Its purpose is to capture the idea that the concept of food insecurity is inherently forward-looking. We apply our measure to construct a refinement of the measures of undernourishment used by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to assess food insecurity across countries. First, we account for the fact that food supply is subject to risk. This risk is an additional burden on the undernourished and on those who are at the edge of undernourishment. Second, unlike much of the previous literature, we use forecasts instead of data from past years in our assessment. To illustrate our approach we estimate risk-adjusted indexes for a sample of African and Southeast Asian countries to describe their state of food insecurity. In addition, we compare and contrast our results with FAO's estimates of undernourishment. The country rankings we obtain using the risk-adjusted measures differ significantly from the country rankings for undernourishment obtained with FAO's methodology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)254-273
JournalJournal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • Food insecurity in african and southeast asian countries
  • Forecasting of dietary energy supply
  • Improving FAO's measure of undernourishment
  • Measurement of food insecurity
  • Risk-adjusted measures of undernourishment


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