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Families as roommates: Changes in U.S. household size from 1850 to 2000

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  • Alejandrina Salcedo
  • Todd Schoellman
  • Michèle Tertilt

Abstract

The size of the average American household has fallen dramatically -from six in 1850 to three in 2000. To explain this decline we model households as collections of roommates who share the costs of household public goods. If private goods are more income elastic than public goods, as we document in the paper, an increase in income endogenously leads to smaller households. We calibrate the model to match data from 2000. Changing incomes to their 1850 levels, we find that our mechanism can explain 37 percent of the observed reduction in the number of adults per household and 16 percent of the reduction in the number of children.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Econometric Society in its journal Quantitative Economics.

Volume (Year): 3 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 (03)
Pages: 133-175

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Handle: RePEc:ecm:quante:v:3:y:2012:i:1:p:133-175

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Cited by:
  1. Bick, Alexander & Choi, Sekyu, 2012. "Revisiting the Effect of Household Size on Consumption Over the Life-Cycle," MPRA Paper 41756, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Thaiyoong Penny Mok & Gillis Maclean & Paul Dalziel, 2011. "Household Size Economies: Malaysian Evidence," Economic Analysis and Policy (EAP), Queensland University of Technology (QUT), School of Economics and Finance, vol. 41(2), pages 203-223, September.
  3. Fatih Guvenen & Michelle Rendall, 2013. "Women's Emancipation Through Education: A Macroeconomic Analysis," NBER Working Papers 18979, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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