Academic journal article Monthly Labor Review

Food-at-Home Expenditures of Asian Households: Differences in Weekly Average Expenditures Suggest a Race Effect in Spending on Food-at-Home Items; Asian Households Spend More Than Other Households on Fresh Fruits, Fresh Vegetables, Rice, and Seafood and Less on Dairy Products and Oils

Academic journal article Monthly Labor Review

Food-at-Home Expenditures of Asian Households: Differences in Weekly Average Expenditures Suggest a Race Effect in Spending on Food-at-Home Items; Asian Households Spend More Than Other Households on Fresh Fruits, Fresh Vegetables, Rice, and Seafood and Less on Dairy Products and Oils

Article excerpt

Asian Americans are one of the fastest growing racial groups in terms of percentage increase in the United States. (1) According to Census estimates, the Nation's Asian and Pacific Islander population grew 43.0 percent to 10.8 million between 1990 and 1999; projections to 2050 are for a tripling in size to 33.4 million. (2) The growth of the Asian American population, together with the growing interest in healthful and diverse diets, has contributed to Asian food becoming more popular. Aside from the proliferation of Asian eateries in local neighborhoods, restaurants in major metropolitan areas such as New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Seattle are offering Asian-influenced recipes from different Asian countries, served with an upscale American style.

The traditional plant-based rural diets of Asia are reflected in the Asian Diet Pyramid. (See exhibit 1.) Researchers at Cornell and Harvard University teamed up with other experts and the nonprofit foundation, Oldways Preservation & Exchange Trust, to unveil the Asian Diet Pyramid. The Asian Diet Pyramid was based on a survey of more than 10,000 families in mainland China and Taiwan that studied diet, lifestyle, and disease across the far reaches of China. The pyramid emphasizes rice, rice products, noodles, breads, and grains (preferably whole grain and minimally processed foods), topped by another large band of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Small daily servings of low fat dairy products or fish are optional; sweets, eggs, and poultry are recommended no more than weekly, and red meat no more than monthly.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Does the allocation of food-at-home spending by Asian households in the United States differ from households of other races? Does the food-at-home spending by Asian households reflect the plant-based traditional diets of rural Asia? This article compares national estimates of food-at-home expenditures by Asian households in the United States with non-Asian households, using data from the 2003 Consumer Expenditure Diary Survey. Food expenditure shares are further examined by regression analyses to study the race effect after controlling for other demographic characteristics.

Data

The Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) is an ongoing nationally representative survey of the noninstitutionalized, civilian population of consumer units (CU's). (3) For the purpose of this article, CU's are treated, and will henceforth be referenced, as households. The CE consists of two independent components, the quarterly Interview Survey and the weekly Diary Survey. Each survey has its own independent sample, and each collects data on income and demographic characteristics of the consumer unit. The Interview Survey includes monthly out-of-pocket expenditures such as housing, apparel, transportation, healthcare, insurance, and entertainment. The Diary Survey includes weekly expenditures of frequently purchased items such as food and beverages, tobacco, personal care products, and nonprescription drugs and supplies. In the Diary Survey, respondents are asked to record all their daily expenditures over 1 week in a paper diary, for 2 consecutive weeks. Information on the quantity of purchase is not captured. In the analysis data set, each observation represents one diary (that is, a household's recorded expenditures for 1 week). Each diary is treated as an independent observation.

This article is based on data from the 2003 Consumer Expenditure Diary Survey. The sample of 15,827 observations represented 115.1 million households of which 3.1 percent were Asian households. (4) In this article, an Asian household is defined as a household where all its members are reported as Asians. (5) The overall response rate in the 2003 Diary was 76.2 percent, with a response rate of 85.9 percent among Asian households and 75.9 percent among other households. (6) In the diary, respondents are asked to indicate if the purchase was made for the household or as a gift. …

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