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George Davis

George Davis
250 Drillfield Dr.
304 Hutcheson Hall
Blacksburg, VA 24060

George Davis has a joint appointment in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics and the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise.  His research generally covers food demand, health outcomes, econometrics, and methodology. Though he works on many issues related to food and nutrition, his main focus is on understanding the interaction of nutrition policies and time allocation in affecting nutrient intake and diet quality. To learn more about Professor Davis' work, click on the information below.



Ph.D. Economics, North Carolina State University, 1991

M.S. Agricultural Economics, Clemson University, 1986

B.S. Agricultural Economics, Clemson University, 1983

Current Projects

I am currently working with Wen You on using more informative measures of ‘food poverty’ in evaluating how well individuals are reaching nutrition targets and to what extent there are differences across socioeconomic and demographic groups.  We also continue to work on the many implications of time constraints on nutrient intake and diet quality.

Currently Teaching 

  • PhD
    • Food and Health Microeconomics AAEC 6214
  • MS/BS
    • Food, Nutrition, and Health Economics AAEC 4814 (Virginia Tech)

Previously Taught

  • PhD
    • Applied Econometric Methods AGEC 661 (Texas A&M)
    • Consumer Demand Analysis AGEC 635 (Texas A&M)
    • Research Methodology AGEC 520 (Texas A&M)
  • MS
    • Applied Microeconomics AAEC 5026
  • BS 
    • Agricultural Price Analysis AGEC 447 (Texas A&M)


  • Professor. Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics and Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise, Virginia Tech. (August, 2007 – Present).
  • Assistant to Professor. Department of Agricultural Economics, Texas A&M University. (December, 1995-August, 2007).


Quality of Communication Award. 2016.
Agricultural and Applied Economics Association. Awarded for the Oxford University Press 2016 book with Elena Serrano, Food and Nutrition Economics: Fundamentals for Health Sciences.

Article of the Year Award. 2015. Western Agricultural Economics Association for article with Senarath Dharmasena and Oral Capps, Jr. “Partial and General Equilibrium Effects of a Sugar Sweetened Beverage Tax.” Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics. Vol. 39. No. 2.  (Aug. 2014): 157-173.

Excellence in Applied Research Award. 2014. College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Virginia Tech.  Shared with Wen You.

Article of the Year Award. 2011. Food Safety and Nutrition Section of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association for article with Wen You, “Household Food Expenditures, Parental Time Allocation, and Childhood Obesity: An Integrated Two-Stage Collective Model with an Empirical Application and Test.”  American Journal of Agricultural Economics.  Vol. 92. No. 3. (April, 2010):859-872.

William Preston Society Master’s Thesis Gold Watch Award. 2009. Virginia Tech. Co Advisor with Wen You for award given to Ge Zhang for her thesis “Incorporating Food-Away From Home into Thrifty Food Plan.”

American Agricultural Economics Association Outstanding Dissertation Award. 2006. Major Advisor for award given to Wen You for her dissertation “Parental Time and Children’s Obesity Measures: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation.”

Outstanding Alumnus Award. 2001 North Carolina State University, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. 


Selected recent publications

Shi, R.*, Meacham, S., Davis, G.C. et al. Factors influencing high respiratory mortality in coal-mining counties: a repeated cross-sectional studyBMC Public Health 19, 1484 (2019).

Yanliang Yang*, George C Davis, Wen You; Measuring Food Expenditure Poverty in SNAP Populations: Some Extensions with an Application to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, , ppy004,

Wen You and George Davis. “Estimating Dual Headed Time in Food Production with Implications for SNAP Benefit Adequacy.” Review of Economics of the Household, 2018, DOI 10.1007/s11150-018-9403-7.

Grebitus, C. and G. C. Davis. “Change is Good!? Analyzing the Relationship Between Attention and Nutrition Facts Panel Modifications.”  Food Policy.  Vol. 73. (Dec. 2017): 119-130.

Davis, George C. and E. Serrano. Food and Nutrition Economics: Fundamentals for Health Sciences. Oxford University Press. 2016

Farris, A. R.*, S. Misyak, K. Duffey, N. Atzaba-Poria, K. Hosig, G. Davis, M. McFerren, E. Serrano. “Elementary Parent Perceptions of Packing Lunches and the National School Lunch Program.”  The Journal of Child Nutrition and Management. Vol. 40. No. 1. Spring 2016.

Yang, Yanliang*, G.C. Davis, and M. Muth. “Beyond the Sticker Price: Including and Excluding Time in Comparing Food Prices.”  The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Vol. 102. No. 1 (2015): 165-171.

Davis, George C. and A. Carlson. “The Inverse Relationship Between Food Price and Energy Density: Is It Spurious?”  Public Health Nutrition. Vol. 18. No. 6. (April 2015):1091-97.

Farris, A.R.*, S. Misyak, K.J. Duffey, G.C. Davis, K. Hosig, N. Atzaba-Poria, M.M. McFerren, and E. L. Serrano. “A Comparison of Fruits, Vegetables, Sugar Sweetened Beverages, and Desserts in Packed Lunches of Elementary Children.”  Childhood Obesity. Vol. 11. No. 3. (June 2015): 275-280.

Brenseke, B.*, J. Bahamonde, M. Talain, E. Kornfeind, J. Daly, G. Cobb, J. Zhang, M. R. Prater, G.C. Davis, and D. J. Good. “Mitigating or Exacerbating Effects of Maternal-Fetal Programming of Female Mice Through the Food Choice Environment.”  Endocrinology. Vol. 156. No. 1. (Jan. 2015): 182-192.

Farris, A.R.*, S. Misyak, K.J. Duffey, G.C. Davis, K. Hosig, N. Atzaba-Poria, M.M. McFerren, and E. L. Serrano. “Nutritional Comparison of Packed and School Lunches in the Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten Children Following the Implementation of the 2012-2013 National School Lunch Program Standards.” Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. Vol. 46. No. 6. (Nov./Dec. 2014):621-626.

Dharmasena, S., G.C. Davis, and O. Capps. “Partial and General Equilibrium Effects of a Sugar Sweetened Beverage Tax.” Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics. Vol. 39. No. 2. (Aug. 2014): 157-173.

Byker, Carmen*, A. Farris, M. Marcenel, G.C. Davis, and E. Serrano. “Food Waste in a School Nutrition Program After Implementation of New NSLP Guidelines.” Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. Vol. 46. No. 5. (Sept./Oct. 2014):406-411.

Davis, George C. “Food at Home Production and Consumption: Implications for Nutrition Quality and Policy.Review of Economics of the Household. Vol. 12. No. 3. (Sept. 2014): 565-588.

Li, Yiran*, B. Mills, G. C. Davis, and E. Mykerezi. “Child Food Insecurity and the Food Stamp Program:  What a Difference Monthly Data Makes.Social Service Review. Vol. 88.  No. 2. (June 2014): 322-348.

Davis, George C. and W. You. Estimates of Returns to Scale, Elasticity of Substitution, and the Thrifty Food Plan Meal Poverty Rate From A Direct Household Meal Production FunctionFood Policy. Vol. 43. (December 2013): 204-212.

Baral, R.*, G. C. Davis, E. L. Serrano, W. You, and S. Blake.  “What Have We Learned About the Cost and Effectiveness of the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program?Choices. (4th Quarter 2013). Vol. 28. No. 4:1-5.

Baral, R.*, G. C. Davis, S. Blake, W. You, and E. L. Serrano. “Using National Data to Estimate Average Cost Effectiveness of EFNEP Outcomes by State/TerritoryJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. Vol. 45. No. 2. (March-April 2013):183-187.

Holmes, A.*, E. L Serrano, J. E. Machin, T. Duetsch and G. C. Davis. “Effect of Different Children’s  Menu Labeling Designs on Family Purchases.” Appetite. Vol. 62. No. 1. (March 2013): 198-202

Davis, George C., J. Jacob, and D. J. Good. “Effects of Incentives and Genetics on Food Choices and Weight Phenotypes in Neuroendocrine Gene Tubby Mutant Mice.” The Open Neuroendocrinology Journal. 5(2012):13-21.

Holmes, A.*, P. Estabrooks, G. C. Davis, and E. L. Serrano. “Effect of a Grocery Store Intervention on Sales of Nutritious Foods to Youth and Their Families.” Journal of American Dietetic Association. Vol. 112. No. 6. (June 2012):897-901.

* indicates graduate student

Food and Nutrition Economics

Welcome Intrepid Scholar,

This webpage contains supplementary material associated with the 2016 Oxford University Press book Food and Nutrition Economics: Fundamentals for Health Sciences winner of the 2017 AAEA Quality of Communication Award. This page currently has two items: (i) question bank and (ii) math review document.  Below is a little description of each.  All files will be in a WORD format so they can easily be copied, saved, and altered to your desires.

Question Bank

I generally structure my tests with 15 multiple choice, two short answer, and one discussion question.  Tests will usually cover on average of about two chapters.  Given the audience and the subject matter (especially the economics later on) I have found that having a majority of rather softball (regurgitation) multiple choice questions sets a relaxed tone for the student, who then has some confidence going into the more challenging short answer and discussion questions.  Thus, the short answer and discussion questions are designed to generate the grade dispersion (i.e., separate As from the Bs, etc.). 

For each chapter there are four types of questions:

(i) The thought break questions from the chapter

(ii) Multiple choice questions

(iii) Short answer questions

(iv) Discussion questions

The thought break questions are included here because I will often use verbatim at least one thought break question from the book on a quiz or test to send a signal that there is a reward to be obtained by working these problems as they read the chapter.

Given the structure of economics it is very easy to make up very different questions with very different answers by just changing a few words within a question, especially verbs, such as increase to decrease.  Thus these questions cover the most important concepts and provide a template for many variations of the questions simply by changing a few words.

Chapter 1 Questions
Chapter 2 Questions
Chapter 3 Questions
Chapter 4 Questions
Chapter 5 Questions
Chapter 6 Questions
Chapter 7 Questions
Chapter 8 Questions
Chapter 9 Questions
Chapter 10 Questions 
Chapter 11 Questions
Chapter 12 Questions 
Chapter 13 Questions
Chapter 14 Questions
Chapter 15 Questions
Chapter 16 Questions

Math Review

The math review document covers all the mathematical and graphical concepts needed for the book, but goes into more detail and gives rather general principles.  As this document has several graphs and equations, it is given in a PDF format to avoid formatting errors that can occur when moving between different text software or versions.

Math Review

Why No Power Points?

After teaching this course for a decade, I am 98.32% confident J that the least effective way to teach the material is “power point flipping.” As explained in the book, economics is a framework for thinking.  It is a toolkit for organizing and analyzing the interaction of different variables.  It is a conceptual calculator.  It should not be viewed as a list of facts or findings.  Students who approach it as memorizing a list of facts do not do well.   

The best way to learn how to use a tool is to use the tool, not have someone show you the tool and just talk about using the tool.  If I was teaching you to become a carpenter and I wanted you to learn how to use a hammer, I wouldn’t just show you a picture of a hammer and a nail and then explain how to hammer.  No, I would do that, but then I would also give you a hammer and some nails and tell you to practice hammering nails and then work with you on improving your hammering.  The same concept applies to learning economics.  The best way to learn economics is to do economics, not read about economic findings.  It is one thing to see the mountain.  It is quite another to climb the mountain.  The map is not the journey. 

The main tool for understanding and applying economics at this level is drawing and manipulating graphs.  Students need to practice – a lot – drawing, manipulating, and interpreting graphs, especially if they have not had much economics in the past.  Consequently, I have found the most effective way to teach the material and graphs is to use what is effectively a fancy overhead projector and draw the graphs from the book for the students in class.  I do not just show them a graph, but I actually draw the graph, explaining why the graph is drawn a certain way as it is being drawn.  The main concept, graph, and or math, is then applied and extended through a real world example that we as a class analyze together.

So for example, if I am going over the analytics of convenience and time, the students are expected to have read the chapter (Chapter 6) and I will briefly go over the main concepts drawing the main graphs.  After this, we will spend most of the class applying the concepts to real world examples such as

Q. Suppose you have a nutrition-counseling client who was assigned to a new job site that is 20 minutes further away than the current job site.  What do you expect this to do to their diet quality given what we know about food away from home versus food at home? (Analysis location: Chapter 6: Convenience and Time)

Thus, a Socratic or “flipped” teaching style works well once the foundations are understood and demonstrated. The best students, and the ones that get the most out of the class, practice drawing the graphs in class and take interpretation notes.  

Please email me, George Davis, or Elena Serrano if you have any questions.