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GRE - Reading Comprehension - Argument Evaluation

Which of the following hypotheses best accounts for the researchers’ findings?

During an economic depression, it is common for food prices to increase even as incomes decrease. Surprisingly, however, researchers determined that during a depression, for every 5 percent increase in the cost of bread, the lowest socioeconomic class actually increases the amount of bread purchased per capita by 3 percent.

Which of the following hypotheses best accounts for the researchers’ findings?

(A) Not all food costs increase during a depression; some food items actually become less expensive.
(B) Because bread consumption does not increase by the same percentage as the cost does, people are likely consuming more of other food items to compensate.
(C) When incomes decrease, people are typically forced to spend a larger proportion of their income on basic needs, such as food and housing.
(D) People who suddenly cannot afford more expensive foods, such as meat, must compensate by consuming more inexpensive foods, such as grains.
(E) During a depression, people in the lowest socioeconomic class will continue to spend the same amount of money on food as they did before the depression began.

This question asks us to solve a paradox. The passage talks about the changes in food prices during an economic depression. During such times food prices tend to increase while incomes decrease. In one finding it was seen that for every 5 percent increase in the cost of bread, people from lowest socioeconomic class increased the amount of bread they purchased by 3 percent. One would expect that with the increase in the bread price the purchase rate will go down, but here its the other way round. So we need to choose an answer that logically explains why the purchase of bread has gone up despite an increase in its price.

(A) This choice is out as the passage clearly states that the price of the bread has increased by 5 percent. A decrease in other food items does not help us resolve the paradox.
B) If people consumed more of other food items then there wouldn't be an increase in the purchase of bread. This option is stating the opposite of what took place, hence we eliminate it.
(C) This maybe true but it does not help to explain why the bread consumption went up hence, is not the answer we are looking for.
(D) This is the correct answer choice. There is a possibility that an increase in the price of other food items like meat was more than the increase in the price of bread. Hence people purchased more of inexpensive grains than meat as the grain items were still affordable despite the increase in its price.
(E) This is not likely to happen as an increase in food prices will impact the spending habits of the people from low socioeconomic class.