Indicators of Welfare Dependence: Annual Report to Congress, 2001 . Economic Security Risk Factor 8. Food Insecurity

03/01/2001

Figure ECON 8. Percentage of Households Classified as Food Insecure: 1999

Figure ECON 8. Percentage of Households Classified as Food Insecure: 1999

Source: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, ERS, calculations using data August 1998 CPS Food Security Supplement.


  • A large majority (90 percent) of American households was food secure in 1999 – that is, showed little or no evidence of concern about food supply or reduction in food intake.

  • Approximately 10 percent of households experienced food insecurity (not being able to afford enough food) at some level during the twelve months ending in April 1999.  More than two-thirds of the food insecure households were without hunger, meaning that although food insecurity was evident in their concerns and in adjustments to household food management, little or no reduction in food intake was reported.

  • The prevalence of food insecurity with hunger in 1999 was 3 percent.  One or more members of these households were estimated to have experienced reduced food intake and hunger as a result of financial constraints.

  • Households with income below poverty had a higher rate of food insecurity (37 percent) than the 10 percent rate among the general population, as shown in Table ECON 8a.  Only 4 percent of families with incomes at or above 185 percent of the poverty level showed evidence of food insecurity.

  • As shown in Table ECON 8b, the incidence of food insecurity and hunger has declined since 1995, when food security data were first collected.  Increases in 1996 and 1998 may be due to the timing of data collection in even years (fall) as compared with odd years (spring).

Table ECON 8a. Percentage of Households Classified as Food Insecure, by Selected  Characteristics: 1999

  Food Secure Food Insecure Total Food Insecure Without Hunger Food Insecure With Hunger
All Households 89.9 10.1 7.1 3.0
Racial Categories        
Non-Hispanic White 93.0 7.0 4.9 2.1
Non-Hispanic Black 78.8 21.2 14.8 6.4
Hispanic 79.2 20.8 15.3 5.5
Non-Hispanic Other 89.8 10.2 7.1 3.1
Households, by Age        
Households with Children Under 6 83.8 16.2 13.1 3.1
Households with Children Under 18 85.2 14.8 11.5 3.3
Households with Elderly but No Children 94.2 5.8 4.3 1.6
Household Income -to-Poverty Ratio        
Under 0.50 60.8 39.2 25.5 13.7
Under 1.00 63.3 36.7 24.5 12.2
Under 1.30 67.7 32.3 21.6 10.7
Under 1.85 73.9 26.1 18.0 8.1
1.85 and over 95.9 4.1 3.1 1.0

See below for notes and source.


Table ECON 8b. Percentage of Households Classified as Food Insecure: 1995-1999

  Food Secure Food Insecure Total Food Insecure Without Hunger Food Insecure With Hunger
1995 89.7 10.3 6.4 3.9
1996 89.6 10.4 6.3 4.1
1997 91.3 8.7 5.6 3.1
1998 89.8 10.2 6.6 3.6
1999 91.3 8.7 5.9 2.8

Note: Food secure households show little or no evidence of concern about food supply or reduction in food intake. Households classified as food insecure without hunger report food-related concerns, adjustments to household food management, and reduced variety and desirability of diet but report little or no reduction in food intake. Households classified as food insecure with hunger report reduced food intake and hunger. Because of changes in survey administration, statistics in Tables ECON 8b have been adjusted for cross-year comparability. These adjustments result in understating the prevalence of food insecurity.  For example, the best estimate of food insecurity in 1999 is 10.1 percent (Table ECON 8a), while the estimate adjusted for cross-year comparability is 8.7 percent (Table ECON 8b).

Source: U.S. Department. of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, Household Food Security in the United States, 1999.

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