Proposal preview

Inferring behaviors and standards of living from household budget data

Throughout history governments and others have been interested in learning more about the welfare and living conditions of their people. From about the nineteenth century household budget surveys were in widespread use as a way to learn about the incomes, costs of living and consumption of ordinary households. Large-scale surveys were carried out in most countries around the world during the decades around the turn of the century 1900.

The primary materials, as well as the published reports, from these surveys are rich sources and have long been used for research in economic history and other disciplines (e.g. Alter 1984; Haines 1989). Recently there has been a renewed interest in these materials and several projects are underway to collect and use them for comparative studies of standards of living and inequality, as well as for studies of household behaviors and consumption. The research area was also highlighted through the choice of the laureate of the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2015; Angus Deaton. Deaton is an important authority to the field not the least because of his work on how to model household behaviors from budget survey data which was presented, for example, in his book from 1997 The analysis of household surveys: a microeconometric approach to development policy.

Both the Global Income Inequality Project, University of Sussex, and the Historical Household Budgets Project, University of Rome, are currently collecting data from household budget surveys from all over the world. A workshop organized at the International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam, in February 2016 presented the data available and discussed possibilities for future comparative studies and collaborations.

Data from household budget surveys have recently also, for example, been used to study the diets and nutrition of historical populations (e.g. Logan 2009; 2015; Vecchi and Coppola 2006; Gazeley and Horrell 2013; Lundh 2013; Gazeley and Newell 2015), the effects of household size on consumption and child well-being (Hatton and Martin 2010; Logan 2011), the relationship between work and the intra-household distribution of resources (Horrell and Oxley 2013; Saaritsa and Kaihovaara 2016; Scott, Walker and Miskell 2015), and households’ consumption smoothing and saving behaviors (Scott and Walker 2012; Lilja and Bäcklund 2013).

Data from household budget surveys have recently also, for example, been used to study the diets and nutrition of historical populations (e.g. Gazeley and Horrell 2013; Lundh 2013; Gazeley and Newell 2015), the effects of household size on consumption and child well-being (Hatton and Martin 2010; Logan 2011), the relationship between work and the intra-household distribution of resources (Horrell and Oxley 2013; Saaritsa and Kaihovaara 2014; Scott, Walker and Miskell 2015), and households’ consumption smoothing and saving behaviors (Scott and Walker 2012; Lilja and Bäcklund 2013).

This session will present studies of behaviors and standards of living based on budget survey data. The detailed information available in these sources allow the researchers to investigate aspects of the life of households and families that are otherwise difficult to study

Organizer(s)

  • Stefan Öberg, University of Gothenburg, stefan.oberg@gu.se, Sweden

Session members

  • Brian A’Hearn, Pembroke College, University of Oxford, brian.ahearn@pmb.ox.ac.uk
  • Nicola Amendola, Faculty of Economics, University of Rome Tor Vergata, nicola.amendola@uniroma2.it
  • Lars Fredrik Andersson, Geography and Economic History, Umeå University, lars-fredrik.andersson@umu.se
  • Hanna Augustin, Department of Internal Medicine and Clinical Nutrition, University of Gothenburg, hanna.augustin@gu.se
  • Liselotte Eriksson, Umeå Centre for Gender Studies, Umeå University, liselotte.eriksson@umu.se
  • Sergio Espuelas-Barroso, Department of Economic History, University of Barcelona,
  • Ian Gazeley, Department of History, University of Sussex, Falmer, i.s.gazeley@sussex.ac.uk
  • Michael R. Haines, Department of Economics, Colgate University, mhaines@colgate.edu
  • Alfonso Herranz-Loncan, Department of Economic History, University of Barcelona, alfonso.herranz@ub.edu
  • Rose Holmes, Department of History, University of Sussex, Falmer, r.holmes@sussex.ac.uk
  • Sara Horrell, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge, sh111@cam.ac.uk
  • Christer Lundh, Unit for Economic History, University of Gothenburg, Christer.lundh@econhist.gu.se
  • Andrew Newell, Department of Economics, University of Sussex, Falmer, a.t.newell@sussex.ac.uk
  • Malin Nilsson, Unit for Economic History, University of Gothenburg, malin.nilsson@econhist.gu.se
  • Paul Nystedt, Jönköping International Business School, Jönköping University, Paul.Nystedt@ju.se
  • Stefan Öberg, Unit for Economic History, University of Gothenburg, Stefan.oberg@gu.se
  • Kota Ogasawara, Department of Industrial Engineering and Economics, School of Engineering, Tokyo Institute of Technology, kota.ogasawara@gmail.com
  • Deborah Oxley, All Souls College, University of Oxford, deborah.oxley@all-souls.ox.ac.uk
  • Concepció Patxot-Cardoner, Department of Economic Theory, University of Barcelona,
  • Kevin Reynolds, Department of History, University of Sussex, Falmer, k.p.reynolds@sussex.ac.uk
  • Evan Roberts, College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota, eroberts@umn.edu
  • Hector Rufrancos, Department of Economics, University of Sussex, Falmer, h.gutierrez-rufrancos@sussex.ac.uk
  • Sakari Saaritsa, Department of Political and Economic Studies, University of Helsinki, sakari.saaritsa@helsinki.fi
  • Guadalupe Souto-Nieves, Department of Applied Economics, Autonomous University of Barcelona,
  • Kjell Torén , Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Gothenburg, kjell.toren@amm.gu.se
  • Giovanni Vecchi, Faculty of Economics, University of Rome Tor Vergata, giovanni.vecchi@uniroma2.it

Proposed discussant(s)

  • Peter H. Lindert, Economics, University of California - Davis, phlindert@ucdavis.edu
  • Deborah Oxley, All Souls College, University of Oxford, deborah.oxley@all-souls.ox.ac.uk
  • Evan Roberts, College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota, eroberts@umn.edu
  • Michael R. Haines, Department of Economics, Colgate University, mhaines@colgate.edu