WIDER Discussion Papers // World Institute for Development Economics (UNU-WIDER) 2006/04
The extent to which commodity price volatility affects the income of producing households and their vulnerability to poverty and food insecurity depends on household diversification patterns and the degree of their exposure to markets. This article focuses on estimating agricultural income uncertainties for a number of different household types in Ghana, Vietnam and Peru. We develop explicit formulae for household income variance, and we combine information from household datasets and commodity price time-series in order to estimate the income uncertainty that emanates from price and production volatility under different scenarios of exposure to international and domestic markets shocks. Our results indicate that market and nonmarket uncertainties significantly affect the variability of agricultural income of households in these countries, and especially households that are specialized in a few commodities. However, it turns out that, under current policies, almost all of their income variability is due to domestic factors, with international prices not contributing much, at least in the short run. Wider exposure to international markets would increase the income variability of producers who have been subjected to domestic market stabilization policies in Ghana and Vietnam, while it would decrease it in the case of Peru.