Effects of food price inflation on infant and child mortality in developing countries

Hyun Hoon Lee, Suejin A. Lee, Jae Young Lim, Cyn Young Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Background: After a historic low level in the early 2000s, global food prices surged upwards to bring about the global food crisis of 2008. High and increasing food prices can generate an immediate threat to the security of a household’s food supply, thereby undermining population health. This paper aims to assess the precise effects of food price inflation on child health in developing countries. Methods: This paper employs a panel dataset covering 95 developing countries for the period 2001–2011 to make a comprehensive assessment of the effects of food price inflation on child health as measured in terms of infant mortality rate and child mortality rate. Results: Focusing on any departure of health indicators from their respective trends, we find that rising food prices have a significant detrimental effect on nourishment and consequently lead to higher levels of both infant and child mortality in developing countries, and especially in least developed countries (LDCs). Discussion: High food price inflation rates are also found to cause an increase in undernourishment only in LDCs and thus leading to an increase in infant and child mortality in these poorest countries. This result is consistent with the observation that, in lower-income countries, food has a higher share in household expenditures and LDCs are likely to be net food importing countries. Conclusions: Hence, there should be increased efforts by both LDC governments and the international community to alleviate the detrimental link between food price inflation and undernourishment and also the link between undernourishment and infant mortality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-551
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Journal of Health Economics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jun 1


  • Child mortality
  • Food prices
  • Food security
  • Infant mortality
  • Undernourishment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)
  • Health Policy


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