Economic hardship, ontological insecurity, and household food waste

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Ghafoorifard, Neda
University of Lethbridge. Dhillon School of Business
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Dhillon School of Business
The experience of downward changes in one’s financial situation is common so that most consumers will experience it during their lifetime such as the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Limited research, however, has examined the impact of economic hardship on consumers’ food-related behavior. Using a sample of Canadians and Americans (n = 519; Mage = 38.4; SDage = 13.6; 46.2% female; 85% lived alone) I identify that economic hardship significantly and negatively predicts consumer food waste behavior, so economic hardship leads consumers to waste less food. I also find a positive indirect effect wherein economic hardship positively predicts ontological insecurity, the aversive feeling of being overwhelmed and out of control, which in turn positively predicts over-consumption and in turn higher food waste. This preliminary work opens the door to future research exploring a potentially rich avenue of research on the implications of adverse economic events on consumer food choice, consumption, and disposal.
food waste , over-consumption , scarcity