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Essays on Consumer Behavior, Food Consumption, and Index Insurance

Anne Gesare Timu, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This dissertation evaluates 1) US household food preferences and food consumption using consumer scanner panel data, and 2) the uptake and impact of index-based livestock insurance among pastoralist households ins Ethiopia. Chapter 1 uses the constant elasticity of substitution (CES) utility function to estimate household preferences for organic and conventional produce. The study uses a 16-year panel of household scanner data on fruit and vegetable purchases to map household preferences for organic and conventional produce. I find that the external food environment plays a significant role in shaping organic food preferences. A household’s preferences begin to converge to local preferences once they have lived in the same location for five years. The results also suggest imperfect substitution between organic and conventional foods. Educated, high-income, and Asian households and households in the Western region of the US exhibit a relatively larger degree of organic food preferences. Chapter 2 uses a combination of the difference-in-difference estimator and propensity-score weighting to study the heterogeneous impacts of a voluntary livestock index-insurance product on food consumption among households in southern Ethiopia. The results suggest that insured households have better food consumption outcomes during and following a drought severe enough to trigger a payment. A heterogeneity analysis among female- and male-headed households shows that the impact of index insurance is greater for female-headed households. The results suggest that index insurance can contribute towards the management of production risks and help rural households recover from the aftermath of climate-related shocks. Chapter 3 investigates why the demand for index insurance is low—a result found consistently for index insurance products throughout developing country settings—despite the program’s positive impacts on welfare. Specifically, the study evaluates the role of liquidity constraints and low trust on index-insurance uptake decisions. The study shows that liquidity per se does not significantly constrain insurance purchase decisions. The study highlights the importance of increased trust through personal experience and the experience of others in the household’s social network in household index insurance uptake decisions.

Subject Area

Agricultural economics|Information science|Behavioral Sciences|Economics|Food Science

Recommended Citation

Timu, Anne Gesare, "Essays on Consumer Behavior, Food Consumption, and Index Insurance" (2021). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI28865921.