Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Report reveals economic, social costs of hunger in America

06.10.2011
Social and economic cost of hunger and food insecurity in US in 2010 was $167.5 billion

The Great Recession and the currently tepid economic recovery swelled the ranks of American households confronting hunger and food insecurity by 30 percent. In 2010 48.8 million Americans lived in food insecure households, meaning they were hungry or faced food insecurity at some point during the year. That's 12 million more people than faced hunger in 2007, before the recession, and represents 16.1 percent of the U.S. population.

Yet hunger is not readily seen in America. We see neither newscasts showing small American children with distended bellies nor legions of thin, frail people lined up at soup kitchens. That's primarily because the expansion of the critical federal nutrition assistance program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, helped many families meet some of their household food needs.

But in spite of the increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program funding, many families still have to make tough choices between a meal and paying for other basic necessities. In 2010 nearly half of the households seeking emergency food assistance reported having to choose between paying for utilities or heating fuel and food. Nearly 40 percent said they had to choose between paying for rent or a mortgage and food. More than a third reported having to choose between their medical bills and food.

What's more, the research in this paper shows that hunger costs our nation at least $167.5 billion due to the combination of lost economic productivity per year, more expensive public education because of the rising costs of poor education outcomes, avoidable health care costs, and the cost of charity to keep families fed. This $167.5 billion does not include the cost of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the other key federal nutrition programs, which run at about $94 billion a year.

We call this $167.5 billion America's hunger bill. In 2010 it cost every citizen $542 due to the far-reaching consequences of hunger in our nation. At the household level the hunger bill came to at least $1,410 in 2010. And because our $167.5 billion estimate is based on a cautious methodology, the actual cost of hunger and food insecurity to our nation is probably higher.

This report also estimates the state-by-state impact of the rising hunger bill from 2007 through 2010. Fifteen states experienced a nearly 40 percent increase in their hunger bill compared to the national increase of 33.4 percent. The sharpest increases in the cost of hunger are estimated to have occurred in Florida (61.9 percent), California (47.2 percent), and Maryland (44.2 percent).

Our research in this report builds upon and updates a 2007 report principally sponsored by the Sodexo Foundation and written by Brandeis University Professor Donald Shepard, the principal author of this report; Larry Brown, who was then on the faculty at of the Harvard School of Public Health; and Timothy Martin and John Orwat from Brandeis University. That initial report, "The Economic Costs of Domestic Hunger," was the first to calculate the direct and indirect cost of adverse health, education, and economic productivity outcomes associated with hunger. This study extends the 2007 study, examining the recession's impact on hunger and the societal costs to our nation and to each of the 50 states in 2007 and 2010. It also provides the first estimate of how much hunger contributes to the cost of special education, which we found to be at least $6.4 billion in 2010.

The 2007 report estimated America's hunger bill to be $90 billion in 2005, sharply lower than the $167.5 billion bill in 2010. In the pages that follow, we will describe how we calculated our nation's annual hunger bill. We then argue that any policy solutions to address the consequences of hunger in America should consider these economic calculations. The reason: We believe our procedures for expressing the consequences of this social problem in economic terms help policymakers gauge the magnitude of the problem and the economic benefits of potential solutions.

In this paper we do not make specific policy proposals beyond adopting our methodology for calculating hunger in America, but we do point out that expanding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to all food insecure households could cost about $83 billion a year. While we do not recommend this approach, we note that nonetheless it would cost the nation much less than the most recent hunger bill in 2010 of $167.5 billion.

There are other policy approaches that also could achieve sustained reduction in hunger and food insecurity—approaches that rely on a mix of federal policies to boost the wages of the lowest-wage earners, increase access to full-time employment, and modestly expand federal nutrition programs. These policies are consistent with the variables used to allocate federal nutrition funding to states under The Emergency Food Assistance Program. In using the state's poverty and unemployment rates, this program recognizes that improved economic conditions reduce hunger and the need for emergency support.

Donald S. Shepard is a professor at the Heller School, Brandeis University, in Waltham, Massachusetts. Elizabeth Setren is an assistant economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Donna Cooper is a Senior Fellow with the Center for American Progress.

Susan Chaityn Lebovits | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.brandeis.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change
17.11.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>