Changing consumer choices have built microchip factories where cotton fields used to be and have doomed cities from New Bedford to Detroit, while the impact of these choices on jobs and tax revenues has stimulated the creation of models of consumer behavior. Even finely tuned econometric models, however, have not served well as guides for policy choices, for they have relied chiefly on data for the Great Depression and the Cold War era or on biased budget surveys. Stanley Lebergott here provides the way to greater realism with new data for the entire twentieth century, including the decades of peacetime prosperity. The new measures also permit moving from the level of the nation to the state.
Analyzing our interest in individual economic well-being, Lebergott argues that consumer expenditure provides a better guide than the usual data on money income before tax. He also challenges continued reliance on a single consumption function in macro models. In other essays he uses the new data to demonstrate that the supposed "flawed prosperity" of the 1920s was not responsible for the Great Depression; points out the limitations of the usual consumer budget surveys; and contrasts the role of age, nativity, and other factors in creating interstate differences. The new data, which link to the official BEA estimates, will provide raw material to test and extend theories of how the consumer and the economy function.
Originally published in 1995.
The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.
"Consumer expenditures is a must for anyone employing twentieth-century American consumption data. It should be read by anyone studying household spending patterns more generally, for Lebergott's embodiment of tastes in the empirical analysis. And its first eight chapters are fun for anyone looking for wit and humour in our often dry field of economic history."--Economic History Review
Table of Contents:
List of Tables
Ch. 1 Measures of Well-Being: Income versus Consumption 3
Ch. 2 Was the Great Depression Driven by Consumption? 9
Ch. 3 Did Underconsumption End the Boom of the 1920s? 17
Ch. 4 Mass Consumption and "Americanization" 22
Ch. 5 The Elite's Share of Consumption: U.S. versus USSR 29
Ch. 6 Beyond the Consumption Function 39
Ch. 7 Tastes - and Other Determinants of Consumption 45
Ch. 8 Why State Consumption Patterns Differ 56
Ch. 9 Estimating Procedures: U.S Consumption, 1900-1929 71
Ch. 10 State Consumption, 1900-1982: Estimating Procedures for Appendix B 91
Ch. 11 Validity of Estimates 125
App. A. U.S. Estimates 147
App. B. State Estimates 187
Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Stanley Lebergott: