Time to Eat
Household Production under Increasing Income Inequality
Eating requires the raw food materials that make up meals and also the time devoted to buying food, preparing meals and eating them, and cleaning up afterwards. Using time-diary and expenditure data for the United States for 1985 and 2003, I examine how income and time prices affect both time and goods input into this household-produced commodity. By focusing on these two years, between which income and earnings inequality increased, I analyze how household production is affected by changing economic opportunities. The results demonstrate that inputs into eating increase with income, and higher time prices at a given level of income reduce time inputs. Over this period the relative goods intensity of producing this commodity increased, especially at the lower part of the income distribution, and the average time input dropped substantially. The results are consistent with goods-time substitution being relatively difficult for eating and with substitution becoming relatively more difficult as production expands.