Nutrition, labour productivity and food security in Thailand

PT Tiwasing

Research output: Types of ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Many households in less developed countries suffer from food insecurity which is unreliable access to a sufficient quantity of nutritious food. It is a major cause of malnutrition, and may lead to reduced worker capacity and low productivity. This study examines the impact of nutrient intake on the productivity of rice-producing households in Thailand. There are three objectives: first, to analyse the relationship between nutrient intake and labour productivity; second, to examine factors affecting the nutrition-labour productivity relationship; and third, to study the links between nutrition, labour productivity and food security. Agricultural household models are used to examine decision-making behaviour, namely production, consumption, and labour allocation. The efficiency wage hypothesis is also examined where an increase in nutrient consumption increases labour productivity. Accordingly, labour is determined by caloric consumption, and nutrition affects productivity. The empirical study adopts econometric methods with data from Thailand's Socio-Economic Survey for 2011 for 2,781 rice-farming households. A semi-log wage equation and a Cobb-Douglas production function are estimated; and a logit model is used to examine the determinants of food security on the production-consumption relationship. Results from the wage equation show that increasing consumption of calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C and iron increase household income, while increasing calorie intake reduces income. An increase in the consumption of grains and starches reduces income, whereas extra consumption of meat and poultry, fruits, vegetables and nuts lead to an increase in income. Male household heads earn more than female heads. Higher levels of education, age, the dependency ratio, and farm size increase income. In the production function, all nutrients affect farm productivity positively which supports the efficiency wage hypothesis. The logit results show that income, education, food expenditure, owning livestock, production for own-consumption, farm size, fertiliser use, and the use of family labour improve food-security; while household size, the dependency ratio, and total household expenditure do not. In conclusion, enhancing micronutrient intake is an investment for improving productivity. The Thai government should focus on building awareness of nutrition in diet and provide dietary guidelines. Food quality and safety standards should be promoted to improve accessibility to nutritious foods. Policies on vitamin and mineral fortification of processed foods, including cooking oils, flours, salt, and sweetness additives, could be designed to improve nutrient-content.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Newcastle University
Award date1 Jun 2016
Publication statusPrint publication - 1 Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes


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