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American Living Standards: Evidence from Recreational Expenditures

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  • Dora L. Costa

Abstract

I use consumer expenditure surveys from 1888-1890, 1917-1919, 1935-1936, 1972-1973, and 1991 to determine whether trends in real income per capita are consistent with trends in recreational budget shares and to establish trends in inequality in recreational expenditures. I find that changes in real total expenditures per capita are likely to underestimate the increase in living standards, particularly during times of innovation in consumer goods and reductions in hours such as in the 1920s and the 1970s and 1980s. Real per capita total expenditures fell by 1.2 percent per year between 1919 and 1935 and rose by 1.8 percent per year between 1972 and 1991. In contrast, trends in recreational expenditure shares imply that between 1919 and 1935 real per capita total expenditures rose by 1.2 percent per year and between 1972 and 1991 by 3.6 percent per year. The bias in conventional measures of per capita real total expenditures may therefore have been 2.4 percentage points per year between 1919 and 1935 and 1.8 percentage points per year between 1972 and 1991. I also find that lower income households experienced a larger increase in living standards than higher income households, perhaps because of decreases in the work hours of lower relative to higher income workers, technological change that lowered the price of recreational goods and created new products that increased demand for recreation, and increased public provision of recreational goods.

Suggested Citation

  • Dora L. Costa, 1999. "American Living Standards: Evidence from Recreational Expenditures," NBER Working Papers 7148, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7148
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    Cited by:

    1. Mark Aguiar & Erik Hurst, 2007. "Measuring Trends in Leisure: The Allocation of Time Over Five Decades," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(3), pages 969-1006.
    2. Fleischer, Aliza & Rivlin, Judith, 2006. "Quality, Quantity And Time Issues In Demand For Vacations," Discussion Papers 7173, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Department of Agricultural Economics and Management.
    3. Mark Aguiar & Erik Hurst, 2006. "Measuring trends in leisure," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    4. Trevon D. Logan, 2011. "Economies Of Scale In The Household: Puzzles And Patterns From The American Past," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 49(4), pages 1008-1028, October.
    5. Stefano DellaVigna & Joshua M. Pollet, 2005. "Attention, Demographics, and the Stock Market," NBER Working Papers 11211, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Stefano DellaVigna & Joshua M. Pollet, 2007. "Demographics and Industry Returns," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1667-1702, December.
    7. Trevon D. Logan, 2008. "Are Engel Curve Estimates of CPI Bias Biased?," NBER Working Papers 13870, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Cristina Bernini & Maria Francesca Cracolici, 2014. "Is Participation in Tourism Market an Opportunity for Everyone? Some Evidence from Italy," Working Papers 2014.17, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    9. Phaneuf, Daniel J. & Smith, V. Kerry, 2006. "Recreation Demand Models," Handbook of Environmental Economics,in: K. G. Mäler & J. R. Vincent (ed.), Handbook of Environmental Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 15, pages 671-761 Elsevier.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement

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