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Beyond the Market: Designing Nonmarket Accounts for the United States
in the pattern of time use reflect changes in population mix or some other cause. The demographic data to support such an effort are, for the most part, already available, largely from the Census Bureau but in some cases from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Center for Health Statistics, and other agencies. A determined researcher could compile these data from existing sources. But it would be very helpful if the information were assembled in a single place, adjusted to be consistent over time. The demographic database would not itself be a satellite to the existing economic accounts, but it would assist in the development and use of those accounts.
The ease with which the quantity of nonmarket outputs can be measured varies widely. Relatively good data are available, for example, on the educational attainment of the working-age population. These data provide a starting point for quantifying the output of the educational sector. Changes in mortality and morbidity are similarly well documented and could provide a basis for quantifying changes in the health status of the population, particularly if combined with demographic data tracking changes in population mix. In other cases, considerable creativity may be required to measure the quantities of nonmarket outputs, and doing an adequate job ultimately may require the collection of new data. Tracking air quality would require better measures of the pollutants to which the public is exposed and of the costs they impose. Tracking the output of the household sector would require data on such things as meals prepared or loads of laundry washed and dried. But, at least in principle, it is possible to see how this task might be approached.
To elaborate on the laundry example, the accounts would, on the input side, tally the number of hours devoted to laundry and the wage of a domestic employee or the opportunity cost or predicted market wage of the person doing the laundry (these methods are discussed below). The remaining inputs would be the capital services of the household’s washing machine and dryer, together with the necessary materials, electricity, water, and detergent. These inputs would be reported in quantity and price terms. On the output side, the accounts would report the amount of laundry done and its price, estimated on the basis of what it would have cost to have the laundry done commercially. More thought needs to be given to what productivity measures mean when they are based on market substitute valuations. In the absence of direct measures of the output of nonmarket activities, one might impute them from observed market activities but, in such cases, productivity measures for nonmarket activities may simply recover the imputation scheme.
Anyone contemplating the development of nonmarket accounts must decide how best to value inputs and outputs in the various accounts, given the absence of prices. Valuation typically involves finding market analogues for the nonmarket