A substantial amount of behind the scenes work to our research has been carried out since my first blog post and is continuing. Our initial research question has been in the process of shifting, due to our results and additional research from other authors. Rather than looking at how the volatility and price spikes in global food commodities are related to local hunger levels, we are now examining whether the price of global food commodities are predictive of local hunger. Our key local hunger indicator is the under-five mortality rate, as measured by The World Bank. While these two topics may sound similar, we shift our focus to analyzing the daily data from Commodity Systems Incorporated and how this impacts the under-five mortality rate of children across the globe.
A whole lot of regression-running in Stata, the statistical analysis software we are using to perform our analyses, was one of the key factors that led us to change our research focus. I found through the regression results that meat products seem to be highly correlated to the under-five mortality rates of children across the globe. From reviewing the literature of past research in this field, I found that this relationship does not seem to have been looked at yet. Many researchers, economists, and scholars have focused on agriculture crops such as wheat, corn, and maize.
I am excited to discover one of our key questions: specifically, which food commodities and combination of food prices are most predictive of local hunger?
Dr. Tekula and I were excited to welcome a new member to our research team, Dr. Anna Shostya, Professor of Economics here at the Pace NYC Campus. Dr. Shostya has brought an incredibly valuable amount of insight and economic perspective to our research. Together, we have identified multiple economic, agricultural, and global policy journals we are preparing our paper to be submitted to (with high hopes of a publication!)
I am learning that it is the small steps that matter most- which there have been plenty of for this project- and how important it is to not get discouraged by minor setbacks over the course of a long-term project. The most difficult challenge I have encountered so far is compiling all the data into one file and cleaning it. This is especially difficult considering we are pulling data from different sources, such as The World Bank, The United Nations Development Program, and Commodity Systems Incorporated. I also had to transpose the data and arrange it in a very specific layout in order to successfully upload it into Stata. I am thrilled that we have been using Stata so heavily for this project, as I have previously gained beginner working knowledge on the program from multiple economics courses. This current research project has allowed me to advance my analysis skills and become more comfortable with the technical application side of the program.
Dr. Tekula, Dr. Shostya, and I have been busy working on finalizing our results, creating a full-length paper, and preparing for the upcoming Research Day Poster Session on May 4th.
Working title: The Relationship between Global Food Commodity Prices and Local Hunger: Volatility, Price Spikes, and the Global Hunger Index
This research project seeks to examine the relationship between global food prices and local hunger. Understanding this connection has been recognized as a valuable asset to reducing food insecurity in both local service programs for the poor and hungry (i.e., food banks), as well as supply chain management of global food programs (i.e., the United Nations World Food Programme). Within the last decade, world food markets have portrayed rising and more volatile prices, cutting into poor families’ household spending on vital goods and services and forcing them to reduce their number of calories consumed. It can also affect their nutrition by leaving them with no choice but to shift to lower quality and less micronutrient-dense foods (von Grebmer et al. 2011).
Dr. Tekula and I were also awarded the Undergraduate Student-Faculty Summer Research Grant and are continuing our research throughout the academic year. We are examining how volatility and price spikes in global food commodities are related to local hunger levels. For our data on hunger, we are using The Global Hunger Index, containing data from the past 26 years for the 118 hungriest countries. For our data on food commodity prices, we are using data from Commodity Systems Incorporated to analyze trends in the market.
As a student, I am extremely excited about playing a key role in building a research project from start to finish and learning all the critical steps in between. I expect to enhance my skills in data analytics and attention to detail throughout the course of the project, as well as the ability to research and identify quality journal articles. We will continue to perform regression analyses in Stata and Excel in order to test our research questions, as well as explore additional online journals to grow our literature review section. I am looking forward to continuing my work with Dr. Tekula!