Measuring the cyclical behavior of home production: a macroeconomic analysis
Much economic activity takes place within the home. Unfortunately, it is difficult to assess the cyclical properties of home production because the available data are too sporadic. Under the assumption that each observation of historical U.S. data on consumption, investment, and hours worked is consistent with optimal behavior on the part of a representative agent, we construct quarterly data on three variables that would otherwise be unobservable at a quarterly frequency: hours worked in the home sector, hours spent in leisure, and the consumption of goods produced in the home sector. Three results emerge: leisure is highly countercyclical while nonmarket hours are acyclical; there has been a large decrease in hours spent in home production since the 1970s; fluctuations in market output are a good measure of fluctuations in individual utility as long as home consumption and market consumption are either extreme complements or extreme substitutes in the production of utility. The sensitivity of results to the parametric assumptions is examined.
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