Time in Eating and Food Preparation among Single Adults

Mark C. Senia, Helen H. Jensen, Oleksandr Zhylyevskyy
June 2014  [14-WP 549]

We investigate factors affecting the duration of eating and food preparation among adults in single decision-maker households. Eating time is differentiated into primary and secondary eating time and further differentiated by location: at home vs. away from home. We construct a simple theoretical model, based on Becker’s household production approach, to motivate empirical equations for eating and food preparation time. Empirical analysis is performed using data from the 2006–2008 Eating and Health (EH) Module of the American Time Use Survey (ATUS). Higher food-at-home prices are found to be associated with more time in food preparation and primary eating at home. Higher fast food prices are associated with more time in food preparation and less time in primary eating at home. We conclude that food prices influence home production and time allocation decisions. We also find that low-income adults spend more time in food preparation and primary eating at home and are less likely to eat away from home than those with more income. The presence of children in the household is associated with more time in food preparation and less time in primary eating away from home. Public policies attempting to effect an increase in food preparation among low-income, single adult households with children may need to account for limited opportunities such households can have to acquire and prepare healthier foods when additional time is required.

Keywords: eating time, food preparation time, American Time Use Survey

JEL Classification: D12, D13, Q18

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