Recommendation 3.8: The new American Time Use Survey should form the basis for measuring the labor inputs into household production in any continuing set of satellite accounts measuring household production.

While the ATUS provides the first vehicle for constructing continuing satellite accounts that reflect the quantity of labor inputs used in household production, its existence does not obviate the difficulty of measuring the quality-adjusted replacement cost of these labor inputs and thus of valuing the labor inputs. Ideally, whatever approach is chosen for measuring these costs, it should be adhered to for some years, allowing, of course, for occasional reviews and revisions as the nature of household technology changes. Considerable data on market wage rates for different types of market work are available; the difficulty lies with determining the relative efficiency of home and market producers for each activity in the ATUS that can be viewed as productive. The problem is difficult, but no more so than many others that have been handled satisfactorily in creating and updating the NIPAs. The importance of maintaining comparable definitions over time is one that cuts across all accounts.

Output Quantities and Prices

Problems analogous to those of measuring input prices arise when one attempts to measure the value of output produced in the home, although for output, measuring quantities is more difficult than measuring prices. On the quantity side, one must first select an appropriate market analog to what is produced at home. The more difficult issue is to construct measures of the quantities of the specific items that are produced. Returning to the laundry example above, one needs to determine how many pairs of pants, underwear, etc., are cleaned by the typical household during each accounting period to generate a measure of the market-equivalent output of home production of laundry. In addition, one must recognize that the quality of nonmarket products, as well as their quantity, is a big challenge in measurement. Even for a reasonably standardized item, such as a lunch of soup and sandwich, there are many attributes of the product, including the convenience of location and service, the variety of choices, and the freshness of ingredients. Coming up with quantity and quality estimates will require new efforts by statistical agencies; the experience of the United Kingdom suggests that, at least for the quantity question, it can be done successfully.

Having determined the particular quantity analog to a home-produced item, its market price should be obtainable, though new data collection again could be required. Existing sources of information that might be useful include the Consumer Price Index (CPI) research database maintained by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Personal Consumption Expenditure report, published by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (and which uses the BLS data). Although the CPI is designed to measure price change, not the price level, tens of thousands of

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement