Interaction Between Food Prices and Political Instability
This report reviews the literature on links between international food prices and political instability (including protests, riots and social unrest). The literature on food prices and protests, riots, unrest, or violent incidents consists mainly of peer-reviewed scholarly articles that utilise econometric modeling. Some early studies examined the links between international food prices and political instability and found conflicting results. Some assessments concluded that there were links between international food prices or food insecurity and the number of violent incidents, while others found that such a link was tenuous. This literature review covers some of the main arguments and findings in the recent literature on food prices and political instability or conflict. The majority of the econometric studies in this review find that there is a link between food price increases and a greater probability of protests, riots or social unrest. However, there are still a few studies that have contradictory results. So, the debate on the effect of food prices on political stability continues. Food subsidies, cash transfers, price controls, and the elimination of trade barriers are some of the policy interventions that may address rising food prices and mitigate the rise of violent collective action. However, the literature questions the effectiveness of such policies in cases where violence or protest action stems from deeper, underlying economic or political grievances.