Journal of Family and Economic Issues

, Volume 17, Issue 3–4, pp 245–260 | Cite as

Money illusion: The importance of household time use in social policy making

  • Robert T. Michael
An Overview of Household Time Use Issues


The paper discusses the reasons for and the implications of the fact that social science does not adequately measure the uses of time or the products of its use. This is called a “money illusion” because typically we focus on the monetary component of many issues, ignoring the equally important time component because it is difficult to quantify. This money illusion affects policy decisions, which are based on faulty or less than complete information. The paper details several examples, including measuring income growth and its distribution; assessing poverty status; calculating family investments in children; setting child support guidelines; assessing the benefits of marriage; and understanding adult sexual behavior.

Key Words

poverty and children real income social policy time value 


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert T. Michael
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.The Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies at the University of ChicagoChicago
  2. 2.NORC, Harris Graduate SchoolUniversity of ChicagoChicago

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