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Bureau of Labor Statistics > Office of Survey Methods and Research > Publications > Browse Research Papers

Economic Dimensions of Household Gift-Giving

Thesia I. Garner and Janet Wagner

Abstract

The purpose of this research was to explore economic dimensions of a consumer  gift-giving model.  Two dimensions of extrahousehold gift expenditures were  modeled: the probability of giving and the expected value of the corresponding expenditures. Data  were  from  4,139 households in the Quarterly Interview component of the 1984-81 U.S. Continuing Consumer Expenditure Survey.  The results  demonstrated  that both the  probability of  giving and  the  value of annual expenditures for gifts given  outside the consumer unit are related to total expenditures (a proxy for income), family size, life-cycle stage, and education.  In addition, the probability of gift-giving is related to the number of female adults, ethnicity, and urbanization , and their value is  related to  region.  Extrahousehold gift expenditures appear to be a luxury  --  as  income increases, gift expenditures increase more rapidly.