A note on the ‘food paradox’: some contradictory evidence
A sample of 200 households in one New York City neighborhood in 1904 shows constant per capita food consumption as households grow in size, holding constant per capita expenditure. Logan (Econ Inq 49(4):1008–1028, 2011) presents US historical evidence that per capita food consumption declines as households grow, replicating contemporary cross-national evidence reported by Deaton and Paxson (J Political Econ 106(5):897–930, 1998), which they describe as a ‘paradox’. Possible reasons for the contradictory evidence include minimal price variation within a city, greater homogeneity of household units, more being spend on rent leading to greater benefits of sharing living space, and application of the unitary household model to a more appropriate setting. Time series estimates of US price and income elasticity of food demand show constant or increasing per capita consumption, which also contradicts the received literature.
KeywordsEngel curves ‘Food paradox’ Household food consumption Household scale economies
JEL ClassificationD1 N3
- Berndt, E. R. (1991). The practice of econometrics. New York: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
- Deaton, A. (1986). Demand analysis. In Z. Grilliches & M. Intriligator (Eds.), Handbook of econometrics (Vol. III, pp. 1768–1839). Amsterdam: Elsevier Science Publishers.Google Scholar
- More, L. B. (1907). Wage earners’ budgets: A study of standards and cost of living in New York city. New York: Henry Holt and Co.Google Scholar
- US Bureau of the Census. (1975). Historical statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970, part 1. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office.Google Scholar