Food Prices and the Politics of Hunger: Beneath Market and State

Volume 46 Number 6
Published: November 15, 2015
What accounts for the persistence of hunger and undernutrition in political and administrative systems which might be otherwise sensitive to the risk of food price volatility and market failure? If pre-empting food price volatility has a political constituency why is there not a similar constituency for preventing vulnerability to hunger? The policy response to globally-driven food price volatility in Pakistan was largely successful in achieving its proximate goals, and price spirals and market shortages in 2008 were aberrations from which lessons were drawn effectively. Research for the Life in a Time of Food Price Volatility project shows that the food economy of the poorest is relatively insulated from price fluctuations, and vulnerability to hunger is mostly driven by idiosyncratic shocks. The poorest often operate beneath the market, or at the lowest rung of a highly segmented market, and their expectations with respect to rights and entitlements to food correspond with their prevailing sources of informal social support.


  • Food security
  • food prices
From Issue: Vol. 46 No. 6 (2015) | Life in a Time of Food Price Volatility