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Not enough money or not enough time to satisfy the Thrifty Food Plan? A cost difference approach for estimating a money-time threshold

  • Davis, George C.
  • You, Wen

Food production at home requires money and time. Food assistance programs focus exclusively on the money cost, while ignoring the time cost. This one-dimensional focus could undermine the effectiveness of food assistance programs. In the spirit of Vickery (1977), this paper uses a cost difference approach to develop a money-time threshold, and several related metrics, to determine whether money or time is the most limiting resource in reaching the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP) target. In our empirical analysis we find that when time is ignored, single headed households spend on average 35% more than required to meet the TFP target. However, when time is included, these households spend on average 40% less than required to meet the TFP target. In addition, we find that when time is ignored, 62% of single headed households on average spend enough money to reach the TFP target, but when time is included, only 13% of single headed households spend enough on average to reach the TFP target. Our empirical results suggest that time is more constraining than money in reaching the TFP target. These results imply that metrics solely focusing on money could severely underestimate the gap between actual expenditures and those required to reach the TFP target.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Food Policy.

Volume (Year): 36 (2011)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 101-107

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:36:y:2011:i:2:p:101-107
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/foodpol

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  1. Davidson, Russell & MacKinnon, James G., 1993. "Estimation and Inference in Econometrics," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195060119, March.
  2. Hamermesh, Daniel S., 2008. "Direct estimates of household production," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 98(1), pages 31-34, January.
  3. Mullahy, John, 1998. "Much ado about two: reconsidering retransformation and the two-part model in health econometrics," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 247-281, June.
  4. Yen, Steven T., 2010. "The effects of SNAP and WIC programs on nutrient intakes of children," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(6), pages 576-583, December.
  5. George Davis & Wen You, 2010. "The time cost of food at home: general and food stamp participant profiles," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(20), pages 2537-2552.
  6. Stewart, Hayden & Blisard, Noel, 2006. "The Thrifty Food Plan and low-income households in the United States: What food groups are being neglected?," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 469-482, October.
  7. Andrew Harvey & Arun Mukhopadhyay, 2007. "When Twenty-Four Hours is not Enough: Time Poverty of Working Parents," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 82(1), pages 57-77, May.
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