Food Prices as a Nutrition Policy Instrument

  • C. Peter Timmer


Most neoclassical economists are reluctant to encourage governments to intervene actively in the formation of prices for agricultural products. The markets for agricultural and food commodities tend to be competitive and efficient, even in much of the Third World. From the perspective of a Pareto Optimum, government interventions in such markets are likely to make matters worse rather than better, no matter what the motivation for intervention. The constant advice of economists to governments to “get prices right” is usually directed at government interventions that “make prices wrong.” T. W. Schultz’s latest book, Distortions of Agricultural Incentives (1), for example, provides an impressively long list of ways in which Third World governments intervene in agricultural input and output price formation, usually to the detriment of agricultural productivity and rural welfare.


Food Price Food Policy Income Class Rice Price Package Approach 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Schultz, T. W. (Ed.). Distortions of Agricultural Incentives. Indiana University Press, Bloomington, Indiana, 1978.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Krishna, R. Agricultural price policy. In: Agricultural Development and Economic Growth, H. M. Southworth and B. F. Johnston (Eds.). Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York, 1967.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Hayami, Y., and V. Ruttan. Agricultural Development: An International Perspective. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland, 1971.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Timmer, C. P., and W. P. Falcon. The political economy of rice production and trade in Asia. In: Agriculture in Development Theory, L. Reynolds (Ed.). Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut, 1975.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Timmer, C. P., and W. P. Falcon. The impact of price on rice trade in Asia. In: Trade, Agriculture and Development, G. S. Tolley and P. A. Zadrozny (Eds.). Ballinger Publishing, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1975.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Lyons, D. C., and R. L. Thompson. The Effect of Relative Prices on Corn Productivity and Exports: A Cross-Country Study. Draft Journal Article, Department of Agricultural Economics, Boston University, November, 1977.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Peterson, W. International farm prices and the social cost of cheap food policies. Am. J. Agric. Econ. 61 (1):12, 1979.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Timmer, C. P. Food prices and food policy analysis. Food Policy, August, 1980.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Pinstrup-Andersen, P., N. R. de Londoño, and E. Hoover. The impact of increasing food supply on human nutrition: Implications for commodity priorities in agricultural research and policy. Am. J. Agric. Econ. 58:131, 1976.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Pinstrup-Andersen, P., and E. Caicedo. The potential impact of changes in income distribution on food demand and human nutrition. Am. J. AgriC. Econ. 60:402, 1978.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    McCarthy, F. D., and L. Taylor, Macro food policy planning: A general equilibrium model for Pakistan. Rev. Econ. Statist. 62 (1):107, 1980.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Taylor, L. Price Policy and the Food People Consume. Mimeo, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1978.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Timmer, C. P. Food price policy and protein-calorie intake: Issues and methodology. Mimeograph, 1978.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Reutlinger, S., and M. Selowsky. Malnutrition and Poverty: Magnitude and Policy Options. World Bank Staff Occasional Papers No. 23, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland, 1976.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Alderman, H., and C. P. Timmer. Food price policy and protein-calorie intake: Estimating consumption parameters for Indonesia. In: Development Issues in Indonesia, S. M. Gillis and C. P. Timmer (Eds.). OGH Publishers, Cambridge, Massachusetts (in press).Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Timmer, C. P., and H. Alderman. Estimating consumption parameters for food policy analysis. Am. J. Agric. Econ. 61:982, 1979.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Frisch, R. A complete scheme for computing all direct and cross-demand elasticities in a model with many sectors. Econometrica 27 (2): 1959.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Timmer, C. P. Is there “curvature” in the Slutsky matrix? Rev. Econ. Statist. 62(3):395–402.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Payne, P. R. Safe protein-calorie ratios in diets: The relative importance of protein and energy intake as causal factors in malnutrition. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 28:281, 1975.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank). Nutrition and Basic Needs. World Bank, Washington, D.C., July, 1979.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Ahmed, R. Foodgrain Supply, Distribution, and Consumption Policies within a Dual Pricing Mechanism: A Case Study of Bangladesh. International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) Research Report No. 8, Washington, D.C., May 1979.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Gavan, J. The Calorie Energy Gap in Bangladesh and Strategies for Reducing It. Paper read at the Conference on Nutrition-Oriented Food Policies and Programs, Bellagio, Italy, August 1977.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    George, P. S. Public Distribution of Foodgrains in Kerala—Income Distribution Implications and Effectiveness. International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) Report No. 7, March 1979.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Kumar, S. K. Impact of Subsidized Rice on Food Consumption and Nutrition in Kerala. International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) Report No. 5, January 1979.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Rogers, B., and F. J. Levinson. Subsidized Food Consumption in Low-Income Countries: The Pakistan Experience. International Nutrition Planning Program, Discussion Paper No. 6, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, April 1976.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Swamy, G. Public Food Distribution in India. AGREP Division Working Paper, International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank) Working Paper, July 1979. World Bank, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Timmer, C. P. Food policy in China. Food Research Institute Studies 16:1, 1976.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Griffin, K., and J. James. Supply Management Problems in the Context of a Basic Needs Strategy. Unpublished draft, IBRD, 1979.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Peter Timmer
    • 1
  1. 1.Harvard Business SchoolBostonUSA

Personalised recommendations