Social Indicators Research

, Volume 116, Issue 3, pp 853–868 | Cite as

The Impact of Food Price Inflation on Subjective Well-being: Evidence From Urban Ethiopia

  • Yonas AlemEmail author
  • Gunnar Köhlin


The world has experienced dramatic food price inflation in recent years, which sparked social unrest and riots in various developing countries. In this paper, we use a novel approach to measure the impact of food price inflation on subjective well-being of urban households in Ethiopia, a country which exhibited one of the highest rates of food price inflation during 2007–2008. Using an ordered probit regression, we show that being negatively affected by a food price shock reduced subjective well-being of households significantly, although the economy was growing rapidly. We also show that relative standing has a large negative effect on subjective well-being of respondents. The fact that rapid economic growth was accompanied by a decline in citizens’ average reported level of life satisfaction brings its pro-poorness into question. We argue that controlling the rise in food price and ensuring that economic growth trickles down to the average urban citizen would enhance welfare significantly.


Life satisfaction Urban Ethiopia Food price inflation Economic growth Ordered probit 



We would like to thank two anonymous referees for their very useful comments. A part of this research was done when Alem was a visiting scholar at the department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of California Berkeley. Financial support from the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) through the Environment for Development Initiative (EfD) of the University of Gothenburg, and from the Swedish Research Council Formas through the program Human Cooperation to Manage Natural Resources (COMMONS) is gratefully acknowledged. The views expressed in this paper are entirely those of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of GothenburgGothenburgSweden
  2. 2.Department of Agricultural and Resource EconomicsUniversity of California, BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA

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