This research examines convergence theory in terms of food expenditure patterns within and across a sample of Western European countries, specifically Italy, Ireland, France and the UK.
Household budget survey data from Italy, the UK, France and Ireland (1985-2005) have been analysed comparing average food budgets and change in coefficient of variations for common food groupings and through cluster analysis for all four countries to determine whether or not countries are becoming more or less alike.
Unlike the average food budgets in Ireland, the UK and France, Italian food budgets are still made up of a high percentage of foods to prepare and eat at home, similar to food budgets in the other countries for socio-demographic groups that either have chosen to eat traditionally or cannot afford to eat out (food poverty households). Modern households within France, the UK and Ireland are spending a higher percentage on foods away from home with some households, specifically those with a head of household who is young, employed and single, spending, on average, two-thirds of their household food budget dining away from home.
Previous research into convergence theory has generally analysed national summary level data. This research uses household level data, allowing for both an analysis of convergence across countries and within countries, specifically looking at socio-demographic groups that share similar food budgets and food lifestyles.
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