Food insecurity predicts well-being inequality

Type Journal Article - Preventive Medicine
Title Food insecurity predicts well-being inequality
Volume 167
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2023
The concept of well-being offers researchers an alternative to understanding inequality and poverty primarily through income and consumption, and recent research has emphasized the importance of examining well-being inequality. Food insecurity has been identified as an important driver of average levels of well-being; in this paper, we show it also predicts changes in the distribution of well-being. We use individual-level data from the Gallup World Poll for 135 countries between 2014 and 2017 (N = 446,741) and apply a flexible moments-based approach. We use the estimated conditional variance as a measure of inter-personal inequality in subjective well-being at the individual-level. Findings indicate that higher food insecurity is associated with higher inequality in well-being in middle- and high-income countries, but not in low-income countries. We also find that being severely food insecure correlates with peoples' well-being inequality in every income group. Understanding disparities in peoples' lives offers important, policy-relevant information that cannot be inferred from mean values alone and offers important insights to achieve SDG Goals 2 and 3 for all people.