Food insecurity and rising food prices: what do we learn from experiential measures ?

Throughout many countries in the world, the measurement of food security currently includes accounting for the importance of perception and anxiety about meeting basic food needs. Using panel data from Malawi, this paper shows that worrying about food security is linked to self-reports of having experienced food insecurity, and the analysis provides evidence that rapidly rising food prices are a source of the anxiety and experiences of food insecurity. This finding controls for individual-level fixed effects and changes in the economic well-being of the individual. A particularly revealing finding of the importance of accounting for anxiety in assessing food insecurity is that individuals report a significant increase in experiences of food insecurity in the presence of rapidly rising food prices even when dietary diversity and caloric intake is stable.