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The time cost of food at home: general and food stamp participant profiles

George Davis and Wen You ()

Applied Economics, 2010, vol. 42, issue 20, 2537-2552

Abstract: Little is known about the cost of time in food preparation at home. Yet, this economic variable is a common thread running through recent concerns about obesity and the Food Stamp (FS) program. This article provides initial estimates of the time cost in food preparation at home for the United States. Two standard methods of estimation are implemented and three demographic profiles are considered: (i) the general population, (ii) the typical FS participant and (iii) the typical FS participant following the United States Department of Agriculture Thrifty Food Plan. For the general population and averaging across methods, the time cost share of total food cost is about 30% if the individual works in the market and at home, but it is about 49% if the individual does not work in the market. For the typical FS participant, especially one following the Thrifty Food plan, the time cost share of total food cost can be as much as 26% higher than the general population. These substantial percentages provide strong incentives to purchase food away from home and help undermine overall diet quality and the efficacy of the FS program, which ignores the time cost in food at home production.

Date: 2010
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DOI: 10.1080/00036840801964468

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