Project Research Theme 3: Agricultural Productivity and Sectoral Gaps, Research Theme 4: Trade and Spatial Frictions, Cross-Cutting Issue 2: Climate Change and the Environment

The Food Problem and Structural Change in Partially Open Economies

This project has been retired

Years active

  • to

Funding category

  • PhD Research Grants

The food problem and structural transformation are inextricably linked. A population’s confidence in the agricultural sector’s ability to produce sufficient food is a pre-requisite for structural transformation. However, many low-income countries continue to face significant challenges around achieving food security. The number of people affected by hunger has been increasing again since 2014, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. This deterioration sped up and intensified in recent years as a result of climate change effects, the COVID-19 pandemic, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In this paper, the author addresses questions around structural change and food security in a partially open economy. The author analyses the spatial transmission of different macroeconomic shocks, such as price shocks in global commodity markets or local productivity shocks in agriculture.

The analysis in this project builds on the general equilibrium model in Gollin and Rogerson (2014). To adapt the framework to the research questions about food security, the author adds two main contributions to the authors’ multi-sector multi-region model. Firstly, they incorporate two additional sectors, an agricultural export crop sector (e.g. coffee) and an urban food processing sector, which capture defining features of agricultural production and food consumption in developing countries. Secondly, the author opens the economy up to trade with the rest of the world in order to model the economy’s dependence on international markets for cash crop exports and food imports. The author calibrates the model to the economy of Tanzania using spatially disaggregate, geo-coded LSMS household survey data, and aggregate data from UN Comtrade, FAOSTAT, and other sources.

With this research project, the author aims to contribute to the body of evidence that can help policy makers to develop strategies for safeguarding food security as the economy undergoes structural change. The research focuses on how structural change takes place in partially open economies and on unpacking the relevant mechanisms that govern how economic shocks affect food security outcomes in different regions within developing countries. The author plans to focus their research on economies in sub-Saharan Africa in general, and on Tanzania in particular. Countries in this region continue to face many challenges related to structural transformation and food security. Building a deep understanding of the different drivers of acute food insecurity during structural transformation processes will be crucial for identifying the scope for policy efforts to improve food security outcomes. The author aims to inform food policy around e.g. the effective allocation of food aid and emergency cash transfers, investments in infrastructure, or interventions aimed at enhancing agricultural productivity, which require careful consideration of geographic targeting.

PhD Research Grants

Closed • Deadline • PhD Research Grants

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