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The Intrafamily Allocation of Goods - How to Separate the Men From the Boys

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  • Reuben Gronau

Abstract

The paper integrates the basic principles of consumption theory and the economics of human resources to generate a powerful method for estimating the distribution of consumption between parents and children. Invoking the assumption of separability between parents' and children's consumption and the corresponding assumption of two-stage budgeting, it is shown that one can estimate the parents' share in total consumption by analyzing the effect of demographic changes on the consumption of adult goods (i.e., goods consumed exclusively by parents). Using the U.S. 1972/73 Consumption Expenditure Survey it is found that white married families tend to allocate about three-quarters of their consumption to parents and one quarter to children. The children's share of consumption in black families does not fall short of those in white families, and the share in white families where the father is absent is even higher. The share increases with the number of children, uut the absolute level of consumption per child declines. These findings are quite robust to changes in functional form and data-base.

Suggested Citation

  • Reuben Gronau, 1986. "The Intrafamily Allocation of Goods - How to Separate the Men From the Boys," NBER Working Papers 1956, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1956
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    1. Barnes, Roberta & Gillingham, Robert, 1984. "Demographic Effects in Demand Analysis: Estimation of the Quadratic Expenditure System Using Microdata," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 66(4), pages 591-601, November.
    2. Paul A. Samuelson, 1956. "Social Indifference Curves," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(1), pages 1-22.
    3. Deaton, Angus S & Muellbauer, John, 1986. "On Measuring Child Costs: With Applications to Poor Countries," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 720-744, August.
    4. Deaton,Angus & Muellbauer,John, 1980. "Economics and Consumer Behavior," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521296762.
    5. van der Gaag, Jacques & Smolensky, Eugene, 1982. "True Household Equivalence Scales and Characteristics of the Poor in the United States," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 28(1), pages 17-28, March.
    6. Gronau, Reuben, 1988. "Consumption Technology and the Intrafamily Distribution of Resources:," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(6), pages 1183-1205, December.
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