WIT Press

Food Crisis: How To Define It Statistically?


Free (open access)

Paper DOI






Page Range

303 - 312




2,507 kb


C. L. Lee, M. H. Lee & J. H. Lee


Climate change may affect food production and ultimately result in a food crisis. But, what phenomena does a food crisis involve and how serious must the food shortage be to qualify as a ‘crisis’? To answer this, we attempt to ‘define’ a food crisis by applying standard microeconomic approaches and examine the history of past food crises. We first build three indices that measure the degree of food crisis, i.e., nonlinear trend deviation index, food shortage index, and food market index. Basically, each index represents a variant measure of the food market’s supply shortage and/or price increase. We then use data of 182 countries from 1961 to 2009 to estimate each index and attempt to identify the occurrence of food crises for each country. All three indices indicate that two major food crises occurred in 1973 and 2008 on a global scale, while minor ones took place less uniformly for different years for different countries during the sample period. The food shortage index seems more reliable than the other two by identifying the outbreaks of food crisis more systematically. Keywords: food crisis, food shortage index, food price, food production. 1 Introduction A food crisis is regarded as a situation when food security is abruptly threatened. Despite this general definition, it is not easy to do it by applying the statistical data because the existing definitions of food crisis are only conceptual. For example, we may encounter a very fundamental problem on these researches such as how they identify those periods as periods of food crisis. There are many researches in the food crisis. They analyse the causes of food crisis and usually explain how to prevent it. For example, Headey et al. [2] examine the food crisis from 2000 to 2009 and show the major reasons for food crisis and emphasize the impacts of food crisis. Other examples are Schnittker [3], Golay [4] and Park [5]. They argue that the food crises had


food crisis, food shortage index, food price, food production.