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Measuring the relative productivity of multitasking to sole-tasking in household production: experimental evidence


  • Charlene M. Kalenkoski
  • Gigi Foster


The standard household production model does not incorporate multitasking, although time-diary data reveal that individuals regularly multitask. We incorporate multitasking into a household production model in which time spent in childcare can be sole-tasked or multitasked with another household production activity and we present the results of an experiment designed to measure the productivity parameters of this model. Because utility and productivity are intertwined and difficult to disentangle in any household production model, we vary the utility pay-offs our experimental participants receive in order to determine how our estimated productivity parameters are affected by a change in the utility parameters. Our estimates of the relative multitasking productivities indicate that, while a minute of sole-tasked time produces more of a single commodity than a minute of multitasked time, total household output increases when two outputs are produced simultaneously, hence confirming the economic motivation for multitasking.

Suggested Citation

  • Charlene M. Kalenkoski & Gigi Foster, 2015. "Measuring the relative productivity of multitasking to sole-tasking in household production: experimental evidence," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 47(18), pages 1847-1862, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:applec:v:47:y:2015:i:18:p:1847-1862
    DOI: 10.1080/00036846.2014.1000526

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    Cited by:

    1. Juan Carlos, Campaña & J. Ignacio, Giménez-Nadal & Jose Alberto, Molina, 2017. "Self-employment and educational childcare time: Evidence from Latin America," MPRA Paper 77360, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Juan Carlos, Campaña & J. Ignacio, Giménez-Nadal & Jose Alberto, Molina, 2017. "Differences between self-employed and employed mothers in balancing family and work responsibilities: Evidence from Latin American countries," MPRA Paper 77964, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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