A Single Father's Shopping Bag: Purchasing Decisions in Single Father Families

Kathleen M. Ziol-Guest, University of Chicago

Using data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey (1980-1998) this paper examines purchasing decisions in single father families. Children growing up in single-father families, like those in single-mother families, are quite disadvantaged compared to married families, and often have worse outcomes compared to other family types. This paper examines consumption differences that exist in father-headed families by estimating Engel Curves and expenditure elasticities, as well as comparison multivariate analysis. Results suggest that single fathers spend more on food consumed away from home and alcohol and tobacco products; and less on publications and toys, as well as children's education. Single fathers differ from single mothers by spending more on food away from home and alcohol and tobacco, and less on children's education. Consumption patterns may suggest one way in which child well-being in households are affected, and may explain some of the child development differences for children residing with single fathers.

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Presented in Session 22: Family Investments