Political Bias Affects How Americans Feel About Food Inflation: Study
Inflation is hitting hard at the grocery store and crushing the budgets of millions, yet not everyone is complaining about rising prices to the same degree. A new study revealed that the way Americans feel about food inflation depends on their political views.
A survey by Purdue University’s Center for Food Demand Analysis and Sustainability discovered that liberals and conservatives have different perceptions of rising costs. Liberals are way too optimistic about food inflation, according to the survey conducted among 1,200 people from all over the United States.
Compared to conservatives, liberals say they’ve experienced less food price increase over the past year, and they foresee less food price inflation in the future.
It’s interesting to observe “the divergent perceptions of food inflation between liberals and conservatives,” according to Jayson Lusk, the head and distinguished professor of agricultural economics at Purdue, who leads the center.
“Not only are liberals severely underestimating the increase in food prices from last year but conservatives’ expectations for inflation are also likely overstating its rate for the coming year—at least compared to U.S. Department of Agriculture predictions,” Lusk said in a statement.
Nevertheless, conservatives and liberals share some common ground when it comes to spending. Consumers reported spending an average of $114 per week on groceries and $67 per week on restaurants and takeout meals. Food spending is almost identical across the political spectrum, according to the study. Liberals, however, place food price inflation approximately three to four percentage points below conservatives.
For example, based on the survey data collected between January and August, liberals think food price inflation has been 6 percent for the past 12 months, compared to conservatives who said 9 percent. In addition, liberals think food prices will go up by 3 percent over the next 12 months, while conservatives think they will rise by 7 percent.
These forecasts are far lower than the recent official figures. The August inflation report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Sept. 13 showed that the food index surged at an annualized rate of 11.4 percent. Grocery store prices jumped 13.5 percent year over year, while food-away-from-home rose 8 percent. Overall, the food index saw its biggest annual increase since 1979.
Americans have begun to feel the effects of drastically increased farming costs this year. Fertilizer prices have been rising due to surging input costs and supply disruptions caused by conflict in Ukraine. Fertilizer prices are expected to rise further as plant closures in Europe tighten global supplies, placing more pressure on food costs.
As a result, while Americans are seeing lower prices at the gas pump, they aren’t getting the same relief in food and other areas. Almost everything outside of the energy index was up across the board last month.
High inflation has also increased the demand for food assistance. The Purdue survey revealed that 25 percent of self-identified liberals reported getting free groceries from a food pantry or food bank, compared to 18 percent of moderates and 16 percent of conservatives.
In addition, liberals care the most about social and environmental sustainability of their food. And there’s a big disagreement over whether “eating less meat is better for the environment,” according to the survey. Liberals are roughly twice as likely to identify as vegetarian or vegan as compared to moderates and conservatives.
Tue, 09/20/2022 – 15:40