Measuring the Extent and Depth of Food Insecurity: An Application to American Indians in the United States

January 2006

Craig Gundersen, Iowa State University.

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Abstract

Within the extensive literature on food insecurity in the United States, little work has been done regarding (a) the depth and severity of food insecurity (as opposed to just the food insecurity rate) and (b) the food insecurity status of American Indians. This paper addresses both these topics using data from the 2001 to 2003 Core Food Security Module of the Current Population Survey. To measure food insecurity, three axiomatically-derived measures of food insecurity are used the food insecurity rate, the food insecurity gap, and the squared food insecurity gap. As expected, given the worse economic conditions facing American Indians their food insecurity levels are generally higher than non-American Indians. However, the magnitude and significance of these differences differ depending on the choice of food insecurity measure. If, instead, only the food insecurity rate had been analyzed, the picture of food insecurity among American Indians viz. non-American Indians would be markedly different. Even after controlling for other factors in multivariate frameworks, these comparisons between American Indians and non-American Indians remain.



Keywords:
Food Assistance Programs and Food Security, Poverty Trends and Measurement, Race and Ethnicity