Journal of Population Ageing

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 133–151 | Cite as

Food Insecurity among Europeans Aged 50+

  • Peng NieEmail author
  • Alfonso Sousa-Poza


Using data from the fifth wave of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe, this study investigates the association between food insecurity (FI) and several demographic and socioeconomic characteristics in a sample of individuals aged 50 and over in 15 European countries. On average, approximately 12% of individuals that eat meat/fish/poultry or fruit/vegetables less than 3 times per week cannot afford to eat these food items more often. Our Heckman probit analysis reveals that being employed, having higher levels of education and household income are associated with a lower probability of being unable to afford meat/fish/poultry or fruit/vegetables on a regular basis. Pronounced country-specific heterogeneity is also observed in food unaffordability: relative to Germany, the Eastern and Southern European countries, particularly the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Italy, and Spain, are more vulnerable to food unaffordability. Nonlinear decompositional results show that household income and being employed are the two main contributors to the food unaffordability gap between high FI and low FI prevalence among European countries.


Food unaffordability Heckman probit model Decompositional analysis Europeans 



This paper uses data from SHARE Wave 5 (DOI: 10.6103/SHARE.w5.100; see Börsch-Supan et al. 2013, for methodological details). The SHARE data collection was primarily funded by the European Commission through the FP5 (QLK6-CT-2001-00360), FP6 (SHARE-I3: RII-CT-2006-062193, COMPARE: CIT5-CT-2005-028857, SHARELIFE: CIT4-CT-2006-028812) and FP7 (SHARE-PREP: N°211909, SHARE-LEAP: N°227822, SHARE M4: N°261982). Additional funding from the German Ministry of Education and Research, the U.S. National Institute on Aging (U01_AG09740-13S2, P01_AG005842, P01_AG08291, P30_AG12815, R21_AG025169, Y1-AG-4553-01, IAG_BSR06-11, OGHA_04-064) and from various national funding sources is gratefully acknowledged (see We would like to thank those who provided the data needed for this paper, although the findings, interpretations, and conclusions are entirely our own. We would also like to thank two anonymous referees for valuable comments on an earlier version of this paper.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Health Care & Public ManagementUniversity of HohenheimStuttgartGermany

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