Household Semi-public Goods and the Estimation of Consumer Equivalence Scales: Some First Steps
Models of household consumption used to estimate the relative needs of people living in different family types need to take account of economies of household size, price-like substitution effects and the allocation of consumption among the individuals of the household. No existing estimation method tackles all three of these issues in a simultaneous and transparent fashion. Partly because of this, consumption-based estimates of consumer equivalence scales have had little direct application in social and economic policies. This paper combines a household production model introduced by Lau (1985) with a Samuelson-type (1956) household welfare function to develop a consumption model which is both general and amenable to the incorporation (and testing) of a range of additional identifying information. The latter can include ‘expert judgements’ of the technology of household production (the scale economies) of different goods. A simplified version of this model is used to estimate some preliminary equivalence scales and intra-household allocations for aged couples and singles.
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