How well do foragers protect food consumption? Panel evidence from a native Amazonian society in Bolivia

Ricardo Godoy*, Victoria Reyes-García, Vincent Vadez, William R. Leonard, Elizabeth Byron

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The ability of rural people to protect their food consumption matters because it captures their economic vulnerability. How well do foragers protect consumption from adverse income shocks and does protection work equally well for all people in the household? We answer the queries with data from 156 adults and 169 children collected over five consecutive quarters from the Tsimane', a native Amazonian society of foragers and farmers in Bolivia. We estimate whether quarterly changes in the logarithm of consumption bear an association with quarterly changes in the logarithm of cash income while controlling for many confounders, including covariant shocks. We use anthropometric indices of short-run nutritional status to proxy for food consumption and use instrumental variables to abate biases from the endogeneity of income. We found that child consumption was fully protected from income growth, but adult consumption was not as well protected. Estimates of income elasticities of consumption fell toward the lower range of estimates from previous studies of farming and industrial societies. We present several hypotheses to explain how the Tsimane' smooth consumption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)723-732
Number of pages10
JournalHuman Ecology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2007


  • Anthropometrics
  • Bolivia
  • Consumption smoothing
  • Income smoothing
  • Tsimane'

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Anthropology
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science

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