Saturday, August 05, 2006

What We Work for Now

Interesting look at how spending patterns have changed over 100 years in the US.

In 1901, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in major industrial cities, the biggest expenditure item for families was food — half of spending in low-income families and a third in more affluent ones. In 1999, food took only 15 percent of household spending, and more than a third of that spending was for food prepared away from home.

Something similar has happened with clothing. In 1901 it took 10 to 15 percent of the family budget, and now it takes only 5 percent.

The big growth category is transportation. In the earliest studies of consumption, transportation wasn't even a separate category; it took only 1 or 2 percent of spending. But then came the automobile, and now we devote more than 20 percent of our spending to transportation.
Food goes from 50% to 15% (though this masks the subsidies to the agricultural system citizens pay through taxes), clothing goes from 15% to 5%, and transportation from 2% to 20%.

And yet, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
In 1901, 80 percent of spending went for food, housing and clothing. In 1999, 81 percent of spending went for food, housing, clothing, transportation and health care.
via Redefining Progress

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