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The growing share of spending on recreation

It's not all fun and games, but there's definitely more

The FRED Blog illuminates interesting graphs from the growing library of FRED data. We often discuss heady and thoughtful topics, but we also showcase the fun side of data. And from the looks of today’s graph, we’re not alone in seeking out the sunny side of the street…

The FRED graph above shows the percent of real personal consumption expenditures devoted to recreational goods and services. Between 2002 and 2019, this share has almost constantly increased. (The sole exception being the dip between 2008 and 2009, during the Great Recession.) To be precise, the share of recreational expenditures has increased 57%, which is worth more than half a smile.

In a recent post, we saw that at least some forms of recreation were booming even during the pandemic in 2020. Sales at sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument, and book stores from July 2019 to July 2020 increased 18.7%. We’ll be sure to revisit this topic when more data come in.

How this graph was created: Search for and select “Real personal consumption expenditures: Durable goods: Recreational goods and vehicles.” From the “Edit Graph” panel, use the “Edit Line 1” tab to customize the data by searching for and selecting “Real personal consumption expenditures: Recreation services” and “Real Personal Consumption Expenditures.” Next, create a custom formula to combine the series by typing in ((a+b)/c)*100 and clicking “Apply.”

Suggested by Diego Mendez-Carbajo.

View on FRED, series used in this post: DRCARX1A020NBEA, DREQRX1A020NBEA, PCECCA

Spending on tobacco products and smoking supplies over time and across groups

Last week, we used data from the Consumer Expenditure Surveys to discuss changes in what people spend on reading materials. Here, we use the same data release to look at what people spend on tobacco products and smoking supplies.

Our first FRED graph shows that, between 1986 and 2019, overall spending on tobacco/smoking decreased for the sum total of all surveyed households. We’ve adjusted the annual dollar figures by the consumer price index for these products to account for their changing price over time. (FYI: The nominal figure for these expenditures in 2019 is $320 per household.)

Last week, we sorted the survey data by age group; here, we sort them by educational attainment, shown in our second, colorful FRED graph.

The share of these expenditures decreases as the level of educational attainment increases. In 2012, households with at most a high school degree made up 47.3% of the overall spending, and households with a bachelor’s or postgraduate degree made up 15.4%. Given the consistent sizes of each colored area in the graph, we can see that the relative shares have been fairly constant, at least since data were first collected in 1996.

Be aware that these patterns across groups might cloud some of the socio-demographic factors at play here. Savvy economic research often considers those factors. And speaking of savvy, read the work of Michael Darden, Julie Hotchkiss, and Melinda Pitts for more insight into the connection between smoking, educational attainment, and wages.

How these graphs were created: For the first graph, search for and select “Expenditures: Tobacco Products and Smoking Supplies: All Consumer Units.” From the “Edit Graph” panel, use the “Edit Line 1” tab to customize the data by searching for and selecting “Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers: Tobacco and Smoking Products in U.S. City Average.” Next, create a custom formula to combine the series by typing in “a/b*100” and clicking “Apply.”

For the second graph, search for and select “Expenditures: Tobacco Products and Smoking Supplies by Education: Master’s, Professional, Doctorate.” From the “Edit Graph” menu, use the “Add Line” tab to search for “Expenditures: Tobacco Products and Smoking Supplies by Education: Bachelor’s Degree.” Repeat the last step to add the same series for the other education levels (associate degree, high school with some college, high school, and less than high school). Next, use the “Format” tab to change graph type to “Area” and stacked “Percent.”

Suggested by Diego Mendez-Carbajo.

View on FRED, series used in this post: CUSR0000SEGA, CXUTOBACCOLB0101M, CXUTOBACCOLB1303M, CXUTOBACCOLB1304M, CXUTOBACCOLB1305M, CXUTOBACCOLB1306M, CXUTOBACCOLB1308M, CXUTOBACCOLB1309M

What the young and old spent on reading materials: 2019 vs. 1984

Naturally, reading the free FRED Blog doesn't count

FRED now has data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Surveys, which are used to keep the consumer price index (CPI) up to date with the current basket of goods and services bought by households. Here, we use that survey data to analyze spending on reading materials.*

The FRED graph above shows spending on reading for seven age groups in 2019. Hover over the pie chart slices to see how much each age group spent relative to the total for all age groups. In 2019, persons under 25 spent the least and persons over 75 spent the most.

The second FRED graph shows the same age groups but from 1984. Back then, persons under 25 still spent the least, but persons 35 to 44 and 45 to 54 spent the most. Because the dollar figures for these expenditures in each pie chart aren’t adjusted for changes in the cost of living, we can’t compare the dollar amounts in 2019 with those in 1984. To do that, we need to use the formula described at the bottom of this post.

Nonetheless, we can compare the different expenditure shares across age groups. While in 1984 overall spending on reading was more or less evenly divided across persons from age 26 to 74, by 2019 almost a quarter of it was done by persons older than 75. The growth of digital media and its uneven adoption across age groups could help explain the changing spending on reading.

*Reading includes subscriptions for newspapers and magazines; books through book clubs; e-books and digital reading material; and the purchase of single-copy newspapers, magazines, newsletters, books, and encyclopedias and other reference books, per https://www.bls.gov/cex/csxgloss.htm.

How these graphs were created: Search for and select “Expenditures: Reading by Age: Under Age 25.” From the “Edit Graph” menu, use the “Add Line” tab to search for “Expenditures: Reading by Age: from Age 25 to 34.” Repeat the last step to add “Expenditures: Reading by Age: from Age 35 to 44,” “Expenditures: Reading by Age: from Age 45 to 54,” “Expenditures: Reading by Age: from Age 55 to 64,” “Expenditures: Reading by Age: from Age 65 to 74,” and “Expenditures: Reading by Age: Age 75 or Over.” Next, use the “Format” tab to change graph type to “Pie.” To show data from different years, edit the date above the graph canvas.

Suggested by Diego Mendez-Carbajo and Maria Arias.

View on FRED, series used in this post: CXUREADINGLB0402M, CXUREADINGLB0403M, CXUREADINGLB0404M, CXUREADINGLB0405M, CXUREADINGLB0406M, CXUREADINGLB0408M, CXUREADINGLB0409M


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