Giffen Behavior: Theory and Evidence

Robert T Jensen, Nolan H. Miller

Research output: Working paper


This paper provides the first real-world evidence of Giffen behavior, i.e., upward sloping demand. Subsidizing the prices of dietary staples for extremely poor households in two provinces of China, we find strong evidence of Giffen behavior for rice in Hunan, and weaker evidence for wheat in Gansu. The data provide new insight into the consumption behavior of the poor, who act as though maximizing utility subject to subsistence concerns, with both demand and calorie elasticities depending significantly, and non-linearly, on the severity of their poverty. Understanding this heterogeneity is important for the effective design of welfare programs for the poor.
Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherNational Bureau of Economic Research
Number of pages60
StatePublished - Jul 2007
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameNBER Working Paper


Dive into the research topics of 'Giffen Behavior: Theory and Evidence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this