Overcoming the dependent variable problem in studying food policy

Jeroen Candel*, Carsten Daugbjerg

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    12 Citations (Scopus)


    The development of a comparative food policy research agenda has been hampered by the dependent variable problem of how to delineate the policy field. Through a concise literature review, we show that the existing literature has conceptualised food policy as policy outputs, institutional orders, or discursive constructs. Focusing on the policy outputs, we define food policy as a set of policy outputs adopted to address one or more food system activities (production, processing and packaging, distribution and retailing, and consumption) with the explicit aim of affecting food system outcomes in a desired direction. The paper develops a heuristic encompassing four dimensions along which food policy outputs may differ: (i) policy scope, (ii) targeting of policy efforts, (iii) type of policy instruments applied and how these are calibrated, and (iv) integration of the various components of the policy complex. These four dimensions can be applied to characterise individual food policies and compare across countries and time. Comparing and tracking the development of food policy along these dimensions would allow for addressing follow-up questions about impacts and what explains policy change.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)169-178
    Number of pages10
    JournalFood Security
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020


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