Changing Diets in China’s Cities: Empirical Fact or Urban Legend?

Fengxia Dong, Frank H. Fuller
September 2007  [06-WP 437] (Revised)

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Suggested citation:

Dong, F. and F.H. Fuller. 2007. "Changing Diets in China’s Cities: Empirical Fact or Urban Legend?" Working paper 06-WP 437. Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, Iowa State University.


China's economic reforms, which began in 1978, resulted in remarkable income growth, and urban Chinese consumers have responded by dramatically increasing their consumption of meat, other livestock products, and fruits and by decreasing consumption of grain-based foods. Economic prosperity, a growing openness to international markets, and domestic policy reforms have changed the food marketing environment for Chinese consumers and may have contributed to shifts in consumer preferences. The objective of this paper is to uncover evidence of structural change in food consumption among urban residents in China. Both parametric and nonparametric methods are used to test for structural change in aggregate household data from 1981 to 2004. The tests provided a reasonably clear picture of changing food consumption over the study period.

Keywords: China, demand models, food consumption, nonparametric analysis, parametric tests, structural change.