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The Demand for Variety: A Household Production Perspective

  • Hamermesh, Daniel S.


    (Royal Holloway, University of London)

  • Gronau, Reuben


    (Hebrew University, Jerusalem)

Economists have devoted substantial attention to firms’ supply of variety, but little to consumers’ demand for variety. Employing the framework of home production, we trace differences in demand to differences in the opportunity costs of activities, which are associated with investments in human capital. Schooling alters time costs and changes the variety of activities household members choose. In time budgets from Australia, Israel, and West Germany we find that higher own and spouses’ incomes raise variety (suggesting positive income effects). Education increases variety independent of income and earnings; part of its impact goes beyond a correlation of educational attainment with preferences for variety.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2767.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Review of Economics and Statistics, 2008, 90 (3), 562-572
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2767
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  1. Jay Stewart, 2006. "Assessing alternative dissimilarity indexes for comparing activity profiles," electronic International Journal of Time Use Research, Research Institute on Professions (Forschungsinstitut Freie Berufe (FFB)) and The International Association for Time Use Research (IATUR), vol. 3(1), pages 49-59, August.
  2. Jackson, Laurence Fraser, 1984. "Hierarchic Demand and the Engel Curve for Variety," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 66(1), pages 8-15, February.
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  7. Jeff E. Biddle & Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1989. "Sleep and the Allocation of Time," NBER Working Papers 2988, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Paul M Romer, 1999. "Increasing Returns and Long-Run Growth," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2232, David K. Levine.
  9. Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1977. "Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(3), pages 297-308, June.
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  12. Dan Devroye & Richard Freeman, 2002. "Does Inequality in Skills Explain Inequality of Earnings Across Advanced Countries?," CEP Discussion Papers dp0552, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
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  16. Bound, John, et al, 1994. "Evidence on the Validity of Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Labor Market Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(3), pages 345-68, July.
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