Research Paper Working Papers 2009-07
Activities, durations, and the empirical estimation of utility
01 Sep 2009
This explores empirically the issue of diminishing marginal utility of specific
consumption experiences with respect to time It deploys a little-used pair of national
sample surveys, from the UK and the USA in the mid-1980s, consisting of diaries in
which respondents provide straightforward affect ratings for a day-long sequence of
activities, as the empirical basis for an estimation of the differing levels of enjoyment
(and hence utility) derived from various categories of activity by different sorts of people.
It demonstrates some striking similarities between the two countries’ mean relative
ratings of the enjoyment of various daily activities, and produces direct estimates of the
extent of diminishing marginal utility with respect to time in the case of some leisure
activities, again with remarkably similar estimates in the two countries. It concludes that
simple diary instruments recording enjoyment levels may be a suitable basis for, among
other applications, aggregation into national accounts of utility.
Not held on CSText