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The Demand for Variety: A Household Production Perspective

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  • Reuben Gronau
  • Daniel S. Hamermesh

Abstract

Product diversity pervades every modern marketplace, and economists have devoted substantial attention to firms' decisions about the supply of variety. This study looks at the consumer's side by discussing the demand for variety. Using the framework of the home-production model, we trace differences in demand to differences in the opportunity costs of various activities. The cost differences are associated with investments in human capital; and the resulting differences in schooling attainment produce differences in time costs that in turn alter the kinds and variety of activities in which household members engage. Using time-budget surveys from Australia, Israel, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United States and West Germany from between 1985 and 1994, we find substantial differences among households in the extent of variety in the nonwork activities that they produce. More educated individuals generate more variety, engaging in both additional activities and the same ones as the less educated, with most of the effect of education on the variety of nonroutine activities. There is more variety on weekends; women engage in more different activities than men; young children add to variety in household consumption/production, especially among women; and income effects are clearly positive.

Suggested Citation

  • Reuben Gronau & Daniel S. Hamermesh, 2001. "The Demand for Variety: A Household Production Perspective," NBER Working Papers 8509, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8509
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Romer, Paul M, 1986. "Increasing Returns and Long-run Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(5), pages 1002-1037, October.
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    3. Reuben Gronau & Daniel S. Hamermesh, 2008. "The Demand for Variety: A Household Production Perspective," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(3), pages 562-572, August.
    4. Gronau, Reuben, 1987. "Home production -- A survey," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & R. Layard (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 4, pages 273-304 Elsevier.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis

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