The Economics of Household Consumption

By Frances M. Magrabi; Young Sook Chung et al. | Go to book overview

3
Methods of Studying Household Consumption
Why is it of value to people in general, who are not involved or expecting to be involved in conducting research, to understand something about how household consumption data are collected and analyzed? Two reasons can be advanced: it enables us to make a better assessment of the accuracy of published information and improves our understanding of how the actions of institutions that use such data--government, business, and private organizations--affect our lives.Before considering the topic in detail, it will be useful to consider some specific reasons for collecting and analyzing household consumption data:
To plan investment and other business activity. Firms obtain data on demand as a basis for their planning. For some purposes they may want data on a specific product or product category, but they may also use data on more general patterns and trends in household spending and consumption behavior.
To identify and evaluate the probable impact of government policy options. Before new legislation or regulations are enacted--for example, changes in tax laws, new product safety regulations, or measures to protect the environment--governing bodies need information on whether the action is likely to achieve the desired result and whether it may have other impacts, good or bad, on some constituencies. Effectiveness of government action often depends in part on the behavior of individual citizens or business firms. For example, if a sales tax increase is enacted to raise revenues, will consumers continue their previous level of purchasing, or may they cut back to the point where total tax revenues do not increase? And may the added taxes create an unfair burden on some consumers or business firms or change their behavior in unexpected and undesirable ways? Household consumption is interrelated with many other aspects of society and therefore affects and is affected in some degree by most government policy.
To evaluate the well-being of a population or population group. Assessments of wellbeing are used by governments and educational or service organizations to identify the need for new programs and assess the effectiveness of existing ones. Well-being

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