The Economics of Household Consumption

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

5
Consumption Patterns in the United States

This chapter provides a profile of different types of spending units--for example, one-parent families, black families, or families with both husband and wife employed. Included in the profile are population characteristics; resources, described in terms of time, income, and durable goods; and spending patterns.

In these profiles, spending is summarized in two ways. First, the mean allocation of expenditures among major categories is presented. This provides a useful description of how such consumer units actually behave on the average. It does not tell us, however, whether their behavior is due to the identifying characteristic (for example, the race of the consumer unit) or to differences in income or other factors. To answer that question, a second expenditure summary is provided to identify expenditure pattern as it uniquely relates to the identifying characteristic.

Data have been drawn from several sources. For this reason, the definitions do not always match. While expenditure data are summarized for consumer units, income and population data are provided by the Bureau of the Census for families and households or, in some cases, individuals. In reading the profiles, keep in mind the differences among these units. Another limitation concerns the year to which data pertain. Where possible, 1988 data have been used throughout; however, some information was available only from earlier years. Unless otherwise noted, all data pertain to 1988. Expenditure data are from the 1988 Survey of Consumer Expenditures, public use tapes, except where otherwise noted.


ALL HOUSEHOLDS

Population Trends

In 1985, there were nearly 87 million households in the United States. The number is expected to increase, although at a declining rate. By the year 2000

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