STRIKING differences in respect of level, composition andgrowth ofnational income are only one aspect of the 'backward'character ofunderdeveloped countries. There are also significant differences in the way in which income is spent: most of these countries show a percentage distribution of expenses in which food takes pride of place. Inquiries into the distribution of Oriental household expenditure cover, as a rule, only limited numbers of the population, mostly farmers and workers. The results of these inquiries suffer frequently from their technical shortcomings, yet they are in line with the established findings of economic theory: since the low income groups form the vast majority of the population in underdeveloped regions, and' certainly rank with the lowest groups of the globe on an international scale-food expenses claim a high share among the various items of expenditure. From the viewpoint of the urgency of requirements or, to use the customary term, income elasticity of food, the share of food exceeds considerably the percentage to be found in industrialised high income countries.