Food Accessibility in the Inner City: What Have We Learned, A Literature Review 1963-2006

It has often been asserted that residents in inner-cities are disadvantaged by the price, quality, and variety of groceries sold in their communities. This assertion raises fundamental questions about the accessibility and affordability of fresh food and groceries in low income and/or ethnically concentrated urban neighborhoods. These issues have been addressed and examined by a number of studies since the 1960’s. The results of many of these studies are summarized and discussed in five categories in this review of literature: (i) accessibility of food in inner-cities, (ii) availability and variety of food choices, (iii) affordability of food, (iv) behavior factors, and (v) public and private initiatives that focus on the issue of reviving inner-city business environment. Defining accessibility to healthy food is problematic; distance to a supermarket is an imperfect measure. Prices are most often observed to be higher in inner city stores but research evidence is not conclusive. Evidence on the cost of store operation is mixed. Dense populations in inner cities can lead to higher sales per square foot and high price elasticity of demand for lower income consumers leads to downward pressure on prices. Public policy to revive inner city food retailing and changing demographics of inner cities is providing new opportunities for retail food stores.

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Replaced with revised version of paper 08/01/08.
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Working Paper

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-22

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