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Consumer Expenditure Surveys

Consumption Symposium: Broadening Our Understanding of Household Consumption and Measurement, September 22-23, 2021

Expanding Consumption Measurement (PDF)

Leonard Nakamura - Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia -

We are in an information age marked by rapid advances in information processing, communication, and science and entertainment. However, measuring the advance of information and knowledge, and its impact on our well-being, is more difficult than measuring increases in the volume of production of non-digital goods and services. We need measures of the utility provided by knowledge-based goods to calculate real interest rates (which measure the value of transferring a unit of consumption from one point in time to another) or the cost of living (which measures the cost of maintaining constant utility). Ongoing research projects with Coyle (2021) and with Hulten (2021) aim to shed light on consumption technology relating digital goods to utility, the value of time, and measures of wellbeing. We discuss here how extensions to the American Time Use survey and the Consumer Expenditure Surveys might help fill data gaps, and also discuss some empirical approaches economists have recently suggested.


Last Modified Date: November 10, 2021