Three Essays on Food Insecurity and Economics

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Virginia Tech


This dissertation is composed of three manuscripts focusing on food insecurity and food economics in the United States. The first manuscript titled ``Differences in Food Insecurity Across the Rural/Urban Spectrum - The Role of Trade Flows" uses county food trade data to examine its correlation with food insecurity rates based on a county's rural-urban continuum code. In addition, an Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition is employed to determine the causes of food insecurity rate differences between county's based on their rural-urban continuum codes.

The second manuscript titled ``The Role of Infrastructure on Food Flows in the United States" uses county food trade data to examine the relationship between county infrastructure important to the food supply chain, such as roadways, ports, food processing and manufacturing plants, grocery stores, supercenters, and restaurants, and the impact on food trade between counties. Specifically, two types of food trade from two Standard Classification of Transported Goods categories are analyzed: agricultural products, and other food stuffs. A Poisson pseudo-maximum likelihood model is employed to account for the zero-trade flows observed between counties. The analysis determines that certain infrastructure has an important impact, and the impact can differ depending on the type of goods category.

The third manuscript, "Reactions to Food Safety Recalls Among Food Insecure and Food Secure Households" examines the behavioral responses of food secure and food insecure persons to a hypothetical food safety recall using a vignette approach. The analysis finds that reactions can differ across demographics, including those of food insecure individuals.



food insecurity, county food trade, infrastructure, food safety