Rural-Urban Food Price Inflation Disparities in the United States

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This paper shows that food price inflation varies across rural, urban, and metro counties in the United States. To quantify this disparity, we calculate food price indices using retail scanner data. Our indices suggest that between 2006 and 2020, rural areas had an overall higher food price inflation compared to urban and metro regions, with food price inflation averaging 0.7 percent lower in urban areas and 1.6 percent lower in metro areas. Additionally, we examine shifts in these disparities during key periods. We find that during the Great Recession, these differences were negligible, but in the post-Great Recession years, urban and metro areas consistently had lower food price inflation. However, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 led to a shift, with both urban and metro areas experiencing higher food price inflation, surpassing rural regions.

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Journal of Agricultural and Food Industrial Organization

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