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Economies of Scale, Household Size, and the Demand for Food

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  • Angus Deaton
  • Christina Paxson

Abstract

In this paper, we demonstrate that the empirical evidence is exactly the opposite of the theo-retical predictions. With total household expenditure per capita (PCE) held constant, expenditure per head on food falls with the number of heads. The result appears to be quite general; we find it not only in the United States, but also in Britain and France, and more surprisingly, in Taiwan, Thailand, Pakistan and among African households in South Africa. The size of the effect is also contrary to the theoretical analysis. In the United States, Britain, and France, food consumption falls by only a small amount as the scale of the household increases.
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Suggested Citation

  • Angus Deaton & Christina Paxson, 1998. "Economies of Scale, Household Size, and the Demand for Food," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(5), pages 897-930, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:106:y:1998:i:5:p:897-930
    DOI: 10.1086/250035
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Robinson, Peter M, 1988. "Root- N-Consistent Semiparametric Regression," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(4), pages 931-954, July.
    2. Moffitt, Robert, 1989. "Estimating the Value of an In-Kind Transfer: The Case of Food Stamps," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 385-409, March.
    3. Lanjouw, Peter & Ravallion, Martin, 1995. "Poverty and Household Size," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(433), pages 1415-1434, November.
    4. Deaton,Angus & Muellbauer,John, 1980. "Economics and Consumer Behavior," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521296762, February.
    5. Thomas M. Fraker & Alberto P. Martini & James C. Ohls, 1995. "The Effect of Food Stamp Cashout on Food Expenditures: An Assessment of the Findings from Four Demonstrations," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(4), pages 633-649.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis

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