Answering Agrilinks Community Questions: Impacts of Global Shocks on Poverty, Hunger, and Diets
On February 9, 2023, we hosted an event with USAID and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). The event covered IFPRI's latest round of country impact modeling. You can find the full event recording here. Below is a follow-up for the questions we were not able to get to during the event.
1. Would IFPRI speak to differentiated impacts for women, youth and other groups? Any employment data to highlight? We are also seeing lagging employment recovery for youth, permanent education loss for youth, rising child marriage and child labor, and compounded migration pressures.
Our modeling focuses on the economic impacts of the crises as mediated through disruptions to labor and product markets. There are other gender-relevant mechanisms or considerations that we do not capture in our models, such as intrahousehold allocation of labor, decision-making and caregiving. These were better tracked by phone surveys during COVID. That said, the sectors that were the worst-affected during COVID “lockdowns” tended to have more male-intensive employment patterns. For example, most informal-intensive sectors continued to operate, including farming, trade, and food processing; these sectors are typically more female-intensive (some exceptions included domestic work and food services, but these are smaller sectors than farming and trade). This explains why male workers — and households that depend more on male incomes — were affected worse than other households. The concentration of COVID lockdown’s economic impacts in urban and industry/service sectors also explains why the rural poor were not generally the worst-affected by the COVID crisis (i.e., it was urban households in the middle of the income distribution that experienced the largest declines in incomes and largest spikes in poverty. In fact, many urban poor in countries like India migrated to rural agriculture as a coping mechanism). Of course, we should emphasize that this does not mean that women or the rural poor were not adversely affected by COVID — all households’ welfare declined over this period — but in relative terms, and from an economic perspective, they were generally not the worst-affected population group.
As mentioned in the seminar, the distributional impacts of the spike in global prices in 2022 was the opposite story. Primary agriculture was adversely affected and food costs rose significantly. This had a more direct impact on the rural poor than COVID lockdowns, and so, during this crisis, it was the rural poor who suffered the largest income/welfare losses. The rural poor tend to be disproportionately female. This is what our models tell us, but they are based on income, employment and expenditure patterns reported in national household and labor force surveys.
We should acknowledge that there is some ongoing work at IFPRI that finds that higher food prices benefit the poor in middle-income countries, and hence disproportionately benefit women. This would suggest that women may have benefited from the higher prices during 2022. This finding is somewhat controversial and is still being debated amongst IFPRI’s researchers. There was also a study conducted by IFPRI that concluded that women were the worst-affected during the COVID period. The authors reviewed the body of evidence prior to COVID and put forward a useful theoretical impact pathway map. However, the review did not specifically examine the impacts of COVID lockdowns, and so their overall assessment did not account for the uneven sectoral impacts of the pandemic/lockdowns (e.g., they emphasize domestic work as being hard hit, which is true, but again a relatively small employer compared to construction, business services, and non-food manufacturing, which are male-dominated). They did, however, provide a comprehensive view of COVID’s impact channels, including intrahousehold impacts. This is broader than our analysis, which again, is limited to looking only at the economic impacts of this crisis.
2. Is IFPRI aware of studies that look at malnutrition compared to the healthy diet as compared to the definition provided by each country?
Please see the paper below that our colleagues at IFPRI have written on the links between COVID and malnutrition (which is something that cannot be convincingly captured inside a structural model).
Impacts of COVID-19 on childhood malnutrition and nutrition-related mortality | IFPRI : International Food Policy Research Institute
3. Is there a document that explains more in detail how this model works, the data used for each country, and how you can disentangle the different impact by driver?
We have a few technical documents that describe the core model.
The original static version of the model is described here:
A standard computable general equilibrium (CGE) model in GAMS | IFPRI : International Food Policy Research Institute
The more recent dynamic version of the model is described in Chapter 2 of the following book, which can be downloaded here:
Strategies and Priorities for African Agriculture: Economywide Perspectives from Country Studies (ifpri.org)
For a more general overview, see our website:
RIAPA Models | IFPRI : International Food Policy Research Institute
4. Did the models consider any impacts or changes in wild capture fisheries? I'm interested to know if there was any increase in reliance on wild capture fisheries as poverty increased or agricultural prices increased. Thank you all for an insightful presentation!
This is an interesting aspect that I’m afraid we didn’t look at in any detail. The models do include the fisheries sector, separated into capture and aquaculture, and we also have downstream fish processing. These sectors were not directly affected by rising world prices, or we did not consider how fish prices may have changed during 2022. As such, we did not focus on them in this particular study.