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The time cost of food at home: general and food stamp participant profiles


  • George Davis
  • Wen You


Little is known about the cost of time in food preparation at home. Yet, this economic variable is a common thread running through recent concerns about obesity and the Food Stamp (FS) program. This article provides initial estimates of the time cost in food preparation at home for the United States. Two standard methods of estimation are implemented and three demographic profiles are considered: (i) the general population, (ii) the typical FS participant and (iii) the typical FS participant following the United States Department of Agriculture Thrifty Food Plan. For the general population and averaging across methods, the time cost share of total food cost is about 30% if the individual works in the market and at home, but it is about 49% if the individual does not work in the market. For the typical FS participant, especially one following the Thrifty Food plan, the time cost share of total food cost can be as much as 26% higher than the general population. These substantial percentages provide strong incentives to purchase food away from home and help undermine overall diet quality and the efficacy of the FS program, which ignores the time cost in food at home production.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:applec:v:42:y:2010:i:20:p:2537-2552
    DOI: 10.1080/00036840801964468

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Beatty, Timothy K.M. & Tuttle, Charlotte, 2011. "Food Secure In 30 Minutes or Less: The Relationship Between Time Use and Food Security," 2011 Annual Meeting, July 24-26, 2011, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 103804, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    2. Short, Gianna & Peterson, Hikaru, . "Does time spent preparing food affect consumers’ food choices?," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, 2016, Boston, Massachusetts 236153, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    3. Harley Frazis & Jay Stewart, 2012. "How to Think about Time-Use Data: What Inferences Can We Make about Long- and Short-Run Time Use from Time Diaries?," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 105-106, pages 231-245.
    4. D. Ribar & Christopher A. Swann, 2014. "If at first you don't succeed: applying for and staying on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(27), pages 3339-3350, September.
    5. Short, Gianna & Peterson, Hikaru, 2016. "Does time spent preparing food affect consumers’ food choices?," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, 2016, Boston, Massachusetts 244990, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    6. Staudigel, Matthias, 2012. "On The Application Of Household Production Theory To Health And Nutrition," 52nd Annual Conference, Stuttgart, Germany, September 26-28, 2012 137389, German Association of Agricultural Economists (GEWISOLA).
    7. Christian Raschke, 2012. "Food stamps and the time cost of food preparation," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 259-275, June.
    8. Gianna C. Giannelli & Lucia Mangiavacchi & Luca Piccoli, 2012. "GDP and the value of family caretaking: how much does Europe care?," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(16), pages 2111-2131, June.
    9. Davis, George C. & You, Wen, 2011. "Not enough money or not enough time to satisfy the Thrifty Food Plan? A cost difference approach for estimating a money-time threshold," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 101-107, April.
    10. Davis, George C. & You, Wen, 2013. "Estimates of returns to scale, elasticity of substitution, and the thrifty food plan meal poverty rate from a direct household meal production function," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 204-212.
    11. George Davis, 2014. "Food at home production and consumption: implications for nutrition quality and policy," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 565-588, September.
    12. repec:ags:aaea13:150303 is not listed on IDEAS

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