Labor supply and household meal production among working adults in the Health and Retirement Survey
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In this paper, I consider how working adults near retirement age in the United States allocate time and monetary resources to meal production. Using the Consumption and Activities Mail Survey supplement to the Health and Retirement Survey, I use a fixed-effects tobit specification to estimate the effect of hours worked, labor income, non-labor income and assets on meal production decisions for respondents between 45 and 75 years of age who either live alone or with their spouse/partner. These relationships are estimated separately by gender and household structure (single-headed and dual-headed households). Among single males, increasing labor supply by 10 h per week was associated with 33.8 fewer minutes per week allocated to at-home meal preparation, 39.5 fewer minutes per month eating at restaurants, and $6.73 more per week spent on groceries. In contrast, the time and expenditure allocations of single females did not respond to changes in hours worked. Within dual-member households, increasing own-labor supply by 10 h per week was associated with a decrease in time allocated to preparing meals for both the male (30.4 min per week) and female member (30.5 min per week) with only weak evidence that the spouse/partner compensated by increasing their allocation of time.
KeywordsHousehold production Labor supply Time use HRS CAMS
JEL ClassificationD12 D13 J22
The author wishes to thank Barbara Wolfe, John Mullahy, Karl Scholz, Daniel Hamermesh and Mark Aguiar for their valuable input along with seminar participants at Texas A&M University. This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health under Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award No. T32 MH18029-21 from the National Institute of Mental Health.
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