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Hunger-Based Poverty Trap a Myth?

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Annie Ebert

on 13 February 2015

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Transcript of Hunger-Based Poverty Trap a Myth?

The Myth of the Hunger-Based Poverty Trap
Annie Ebert
5 December 2014

There is a stronger relationship between income and micro-nutrient intake than there is between income and caloric intake.
As micro-nutrient intake increases, productivity increases, and therefore, so does income.

I.V. (caloric intake): types of food consumed (protein, carbohydrate, fat, vegetables, etc); index of micronutrient intake (Vitamin A, Vitamin B-12, & Iron)

D.V. (productivity): income, type of wage (flat vs. salary), & per capita GDP
How effective is the hunger-based poverty trap in explaining why malnourishment persists today?
Research Question
Aggregate Data of HDI values for low developed countries
Survey Research in Eastern Africa-- societal behavior-- (type of income, amount spent on food, & what food is consumed in largest amounts)
Direct observation of people's eating habits, spending habits, and state of health
Research Methods
1. Hunger-Based Poverty Trap
"The poor cannot afford to eat enough; this makes them less productive and keeps them poor" (Banerjee et al. 2011).
2. Malnourishment
The human body needs a certain number of calories just to survive, but at some point, it is not caloric intake alone that keeps you healthy, but micronutrient intake
When the diet does not provide adequate calories or protein for growth or maintenance; the inability to fully utilize the food eaten due to illness (UNICEF)

The idea of a hunger-based poverty trap is an ineffective reasoning that assumes an increase in calories (quantity of food) leads to an increase in productivity.
doesn't account for micronutrients
A hunger-based poverty trap does explain why malnourishment persists because the poor get poorer, and the rich get richer and eat even better, and get stronger and even richer, and the gap keeps increasing (Banerjee et al. 2011).
Independent variable: caloric intake; micro-nutrient intake
Dependent variable: productivity (and therefore income)
Caloric intake --> productivity --> income vs.
M.N intake (an index)--> productivity--> income
Other factors: education and cultural practices
Expected Results

Difference between effect of caloric intake & micro-nutrient intake on productivity & income
Children who receive proper nutrients in utero or during early childhood will earn more money every year of his/her life (Baird et al. 2010)
The first MDG is "to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger" (UN.org).
Assumption that poverty comes from hunger
Human Development Index:
Based of three things
life expectancy at birth
educational attainment (adult literacy rate)
income (GDP per-capita)
Conclusion-- We need to prioritize:

Developing ways of packing food that people already like to eat (and are readily available) with additional nutrients
Coming up with new strains of nutritious and tasty crops that can be grown in a wider range of environments
Expected Findings
Full transcript