Quantifying the structure of food demand in China: An econometric approach

Vardges Hovhannisyan, Brian W. Gould

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25 Scopus citations


This article examines food demand structure and its dynamics for 11 commodities in urban China. The analysis is based on household-level expenditure survey data for two cross-sectional surveys of Chinese households pertaining to food expenditure patterns during 1995 and 2003. Pre-committed components of commodity demands, that are insensitive to economic variables, are explored. We use the generalized quadratic almost ideal demand system (GQAIDS) for its empirical superiority to the generalized almost ideal demand system (GAIDS), and estimate the associated parameters via full information maximum likelihood procedure (FIML) accounting for endogeneity of total expenditures on food for home consumption (FAH). We also use quality-adjusted commodity unit values to control for quality differences resulting from commodity aggregation and food choice. Furthermore, we derive GQAIDS elasticity formulas, and estimate income elasticities without restrictions. The results partially support the hypothesis that an average Chinese household has incorporated elements of Western diet (fine grains) into traditional Chinese food diet over time. Moreover, the outcome of a simple test developed here points to possible preference changes for a majority of food staples under study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalAgricultural Economics
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • Expenditure endogeneity
  • Food preferences
  • Generalized quadratic almost ideal demand system
  • Pre-committed demand

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