Economic transition and household food consumption: A study of Bulgaria from 1985 to 2002

Ludmila Ivanova, Plamen Dimitrov, Dora Ovcharova, Jocilyn Dellava, Daniel J. Hoffman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Major economic transitions typically entail changes in the availability of and purchasing power for different types of foods leading to long-term changes in the composition of the diet. Bulgaria, a former Eastern Bloc country, underwent a difficult and protracted transition from a centralized to market economy with acute economic crises and a much slower recovery of income levels than in Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. Using annual data from the Bulgarian National Household Survey, we study changes in the reported consumption of major foods (excluding alcoholic drinks) and their constituent macronutrients from 1985 to 2002, examining also the differences in dietary patterns between the period prior to and following the transition. The consumption of most major food items decreased, resulting in a fall in per capita energy consumption of 429 kcal/day (1.80 MJ/d), following the economic transition of 1991. As expected, the consumption of foods that were more expensive per unit of energy decreased greater than cheaper foods, -34% for animal products and -19% for visible fats, but only -10% for carbohydrates. These changes are related to the changes in income and market prices as well as the general negative trend in economic growth and hyperinflation in the mid-1990s. Thus, Bulgaria experienced a decrease in food consumption without significant changes in the dietary pattern following the economic transition of 1991. The fact that part of this decline may be attributed to continued economic challenges suggests that future transitions in the diet may be expected as economic development proceeds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-397
Number of pages15
JournalEconomics and Human Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)


  • Agriculture
  • Bulgaria
  • Chronic diseases
  • Diet
  • Economic transition
  • Food consumption
  • Food policy
  • Nutrition

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