Development Economics

A Review – Food Price Increases: Causes, Impacts and Responses *


On September 30, IIEP held a daylong conference on “Food Price Increases: Causes, Impacts and Responses.” IIEP brought eight leading experts to GW to examine the reemergence of the “food problem”: prices have reversed their downward trend of much of the 20th century; over the last decade global food prices have risen about 80%. In response, the number of people suffering from hunger as measured by the Food and Agriculture Organization has increased by more than 100 million people. But variance also seems to have increased significantly – returning to volatility not seen since the 1970s. Finally, a third feature emerged – two sharp upward food price spikes – that demanded improved understanding. More than 100 participants attended the event. The speakers presented new, groundbreaking research addressing each of these three changes in food price dynamics.

* Parts of this review first appeared in an article in World Ark:


Stephen C. Smith is a Professor of Economics and International Affairs and Chair of the Department of Economics at the George Washington University. He received his PhD in economics from Cornell University and has been a Fulbright Research Scholar, a Jean Monnet Research Fellow, a Brookings Visiting and Non-Resident Fellow, as well as an IZA Research Fellow. Professor Smith is the author of Ending Global Poverty: A Guide to What Works (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005); co-author with Michael Todaro of Economic Development (12th Ed., Addison-Wesley, 2014); and co-editor with Jennifer Brinkerhoff and Hildy Teegen of NGOs and the Millennium Development Goals (Palgrave Macmillan, June 2007). He is also author or coauthor of approximately fifty journal articles, and numerous other publications. (Further details at

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