Is urbanization contributing to higher food prices?

Peer Reviewed
1 January 2010

Urbanization has been mentioned as one possible cause of higher food prices, and in this paper we examine some of the suggested links between urbanization and food prices.

We conclude that urbanization, conventionally defined as the increasing share of the population living in urban settlements, is being conflated with related but separate processes, such as economic growth, population growth and environmental degradation. We discuss factors that affect food prices and conclude that the one important way in which urbanization in poor countries may affect food prices is that it increases the number of households that depend on commercial food supplies, rather than on own production, as their main source, and hence are likely to hoard food if they fear future price increases. One policy option for managing this is larger food reserves. Attempts to curb urbanization, on the other hand, would be ill-advised.


EfD Authors
Sustainable Development Goals

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Publication | 23 July 2010