« Comments on Wright | Main | Comments on DeLong »

August 23, 2007

Comments

Niki Chen

I think the logistic diffusion curve which investigates the rate of diffusion over time is quite memorable and interesting. It makes sense to me that small numbers of "innovating" consumers would be the first to buy the product. Then information and imitation would increase the number of purchases over time. Diffusion would then begin to slow down as the market becomes more saturated with the product.

As to why some goods diffuse faster than others, I was more drawn to the "psychographics" approach which stated that the preference for certain goods would be related to people's set of personal values. It makes sense to think that those who value leisure and entertainment would be more interested in home entertainment and sports products, while those who were more interested in security and respect would be more interested in sports and exercise products.

The article stated that in their view, the different diffusion rates of different goods depends on how the goods effect discretionary time. This depends upon whether the good is time-using (which use discretionary time) or time-saving goods (which release discretionary time). I thought these were a good way to categorize different appliances. It interests me that these two categories of goods have distinct diffusion patterns.

It suprises me to learn that time-using appliances actually diffuse at a higher rate than time-saving appliances. I would have guessed that it would be the other way around. It also suprises me that consumers give greater priority to enhancing the quality of discretionary time, instead of obtaining more of that time.

I am so used to applicances such a refrigerators, radios, vacuum cleaners, and other household appliances being around that it's hard for me to imagine that it took time for the technologies to be adopted and to diffuse.

Evan Caso

This article takes a microeconomic look at the uses of our discretionary time. I was also surprised at the conclusions reached. I would have thought that time-saving appliances would diffuse at a faster rate than time-using appliances. However, the explanation makes sense in that time-using items increase the quality of free time, rather than simply increasing the quantity of it. Clearly, with the advent of television and the internet, the quality of entertainment has increased, and many more options are available. One thing that I found disturbing, however, is people's attachment to television. One study cites that respondents would have to be bribed with substantial amounts of money to give up television. Domestic violence increased, along with use of drugs. These are obviously disturbing facts. A more macroeconomic approach on the aggregate effects of television on society would be useful. Does TV affect our capacity to produce? Is it being used as a substitute for parenting? Given the fact that TV watching is pervasive, these are questions that probably need to be answered.

Ed Lam

Bowden and Offer’s analysis of the diffusion of appliances incorporates economical, psychological, and social aspects in the decision making process for purchasing time-using versus time-saving durables. Like the previous post, I also found people’s addiction for TV shocking. Most people would rather give up sums of money rather than sacrificing TV or even revert to domestic violence or depression without television access. This almost makes television a greater evil than tobacco. The article reveals human nature’s tendency to despise housework (using time-saving appliances) and maximize the quality, not quantity, of discretionary time (using time-using appliances). Although the UK diffusion of appliances lagged behind US, the patterns were similar due to people sharing the same preferences and choices. Since females burdened the use of time-saving goods, it would be interesting to see how their utility/gratification for time-using versus time-saving goods would change over time as more and more women enter the workforce.

Tiffany Tam

This article was well written and raises good points about household appliances. American's are buying and using appliances that have "freed" up time by being more time efficient. For example, a blender or microwave has made cooking easier for busy Americans, but the article brings in the point of diffusion and how some appliances allocate more discretionary time or use discretionary time. What appliances are bought depends on the psychographics of the individual and their interests. That completely makes sense because it doesn't matter how efficient the piece of machinery is if no one has interest in it. It's surprising that technology that is time consuming diffuse at a higher rate instead of vice versa. It was disturbing that America is so dependent on television. Out of 120 families only 5 chose to get paid $500 to not watch watch television for a month...I personally wouldn't give up television for that much either...which actually bothers me. Overall this article was interesting and I never looked at household products in that sense before.

Lucy McKenzie

I found the discussion of the cost of television viewing particularly interesting. Living with a number of professionals and seeing them come home each day to crash in front of a TV, I understand the suggestion that viewing requires low effort and mental cost. Still, I was amazed by the number of hours spent on average watching TV, and the fact that so many would not take 1 000 000 pounds to give up TV. I would be interested to see what those figures would be like today if collected instead for the Internet. Indeed, the Bowden and Offer article would certainly be encouraging to the likes of Apple and Tivo.

I found the article a thoughtful review of previous literature and a good accumulation of data previously generated to make conclusions on the diffusion rates of appliances. However, the criticism I have of the article is that it claims to make use of a Becker-inspired approach, but does not really hold on to this method throughout the article. Instead, many conclusions are drawn without reference to marginal utilities and costs, and are rather based on logical, qualitative links.

Andrea Roland

I kept waiting for the penny to drop and it finally did so 15 pages into the article. One of the main reasons that time using appliances diffuse faster than time saving appliances is that they are status good and men buy them. Men “have greater power within households, these goods acquire priority for purchase.” (page 740). That to me seems to be the main argument. Men (during most of the time period discussed) were the main wage earner in a household, and as such, got to make the large purchase decisions. They are also the main leisure users. Why get a wife a time saving appliance? After all what else has she got to do with her time but do the washing, cleaning, cooking, raising the children etc.

The article did not go into the specifics if the velocity of purchase of these appliances increased as women entered the workplace in increasing numbers. They did, however, show that the time saved seemed to be equal to the amount of television watched. And here I was taught that correlation did not equal causation.

Did any one else read “Crossing the Chasm” by Geoffrey Moore? It originally came out about 11 years ago. Moore examined new technologies and how they get adopted (or diffused). It is a good companion piece to the beginning of this article.

Sheena Mathew

I found Bowden and Offers’ theories on the diffusion of time-using and time-saving goods to be quite logical and applicable to life today. Although it was not stressed that much in the article, I think one of the major reasons time-using goods diffuse d significantly faster than other goods is that time-using goods provide families with status. However, a major part of why this is possible is the rapid advancement of technology in time-using goods, which was highlighted. Since there is such a fast turnover rate for most electronic devices, there is always something better to buy to improve your status. I also found the discussion about television to be interesting; I was amazed to see how attached some people were to their T.V. sets. Also, I found it odd that the use of telephones spread so slowly, because it is such a sharp contrast to the way cell phones have spread in today’s society. Really, I think if the article was rewritten today, cell phones would be included in the paper, as many people would not give up their phones for a sum of money.

Chris Schoeneborn

Bowden and Offer provide concrete evidence to the declining rate of American and British leisurely activity aside from watching television. In the broader context, the authors propose that the diffusion of household appliances can be categorized into two subgroups. The first, time saving appliances, such as refridgerators, vacuums, and washing machines, over time have diffused much more slowly than time using appliances, namely television and radio. The reason for the difference in diffusion rates deals with the effects that these goods have on discretionary time. Empirical evidence has shown that the average time spent cleaning a household has not declined substantially over the past century, which is the main purpose for which time saving appliances were created. This is due to the increased priority given to the quality of a clean home. On the other hand, television watching has become a habitual tendency in almost everybody's lives. Average Americans and British watch TV for over two hours a day! Bowden and Offer say this is due to peoples' need for "sensual arousal," in which television provides a perfect fit. Watching television is the easiest way to prevent boredom and requires the least amount of effort or intellectual stimulation. Everybody can agree that watching TV has a declining marginal utility. After sitting down and watching the tube for long periods of time, one becomes uninterested or bored. The problem is that people today have difficulty finding other activities to substitute for their entertainment needs. Although the share of disposable income used to buy household appliances has merely increased from 0.5% in 1920 to 2.0% in 1980, poor households make every effort possible to buy time using goods, especially televisions.

Dragana Ognenovska

I was blown away by the average amount people spend watching television per day. When I was growing up I watched an hour of TV per week and nowadays I find myself turning on the TV once or twice per month. The article suggested that TV is used as a substitute for “social interactions and to ward feelings of loneliness.” I believe this is true and sad at the same time because people are consumed by TV shows instead of going out there and enhancing their social skills. Also, Sheena brought up a good point that family status is a reason of why time-saving appliances diffused at a slower rate than time-using appliances. In our culture it seems to be that the more materialistic value one can exhibit the more one is liked by others.

Patrick Humphreys

I think it is truly amazing that TV watchers, like addicts, experience “habituation, desensitization, and satiation.” Finding out that the constant depiction of more sex and violence on TV is needed to increase the level of stimulation required to keep a constant level of arousal was equally disturbing. Hidden amongst all of those shocking statistics about TV was a great insight into how affluent individuals spend their discretionary time. I had always taken a utilitarian view that people’s primary objective would be to increase their amount of discretionary time; I totally failed to appreciate the demand for higher quality discretionary time. This trend can be easily observed in a similar situation as middle class consumers switch from low-priced Wal-Mart goods to the relatively higher quality products of Target. It seems that quality definitely trumps quantity as incomes rise. Also, I strongly agreed with the status element of time-user appliances (I have had plenty of neighbors show off the newest, most technologically advanced TV or stereo.) I think it goes a long way in explaining low-income individuals’ willingness to take on large amounts of debt to purchase consumer durables. Nothing shows off middle class status like that big screen TV with surround sound, even if this middle class aspirant is not really able to afford it.

Richard Park

The Bowden and Offer article mainly discusses the ever increasing amount of appliances within American and British households. Even among the increase in appliances, there have been discrepancies as to the rapid diffusion of certain types of appliances. One of the arguments of the article states that this difference in diffusion rates is partly due to different levels of satisfaction provided from goods. Bowden and Offer present their diffusion of appliances through a logistic growth curve, but the main issue with the curve that it is simply descriptive and fails to answer why diffusion rates have varied over time. The article attempts to answer the question by stating that commodities are sources of utility and two types of goods, time-saving and time-using, provide different levels of utilities to consumers. The diffusion lag for time-saving appliances tends to be long because consumers are concerned with an increased quality of discretionary time rather than increasing quantity. This basically means that people want a higher quality of leisure rather than simply increasing time available for leisure. As times have changed, workloads have become easier by time-saving appliances, but it is difficult to maintain an ever increasing desire of satisfaction. This extreme demand for high quality leisure has allowed for more innovations in terms of time-using goods and therefore a larger potential market.

Krista Seiden

Bowden and Offer make the argument that the diffusion of time-saving versus time-using was different, with time-using diffusing much more rapidly, because people are generally more interested in enhancing the quality of their discretionary time rather than the quantity of their discretionary time. They argue too that this parallels the uneven pace of technological change which seeks to increase the attractiveness of leisure rather than to reduce the time and burden of household tasks.

The authors suggest that though time-using products such as radio and television have diffused much faster, the utility received from them has diminished over time and with the increased availability and use of the products. Thus, satisfaction and allocation of time and resources to receive such satisfaction is highly dependent on the individual and how each person assesses the value of their discretionary time. However, increasing technology and fast diffusion of new products allows for constant new items to entertain the user and use discretionary time, while time-saving goods have not changed much in function and purpose and do not continually find ways to add utility to the user's life. Finally, "the task of engaging idle minds has proved more amenable to technology than the challenge of keeping house."

Lara Palanjian

Bowden and Offer present a unique example of standard economic theory relating to consumer preferences and marginal utility. The article illustrates how one’s psychology and preferences have a substantial impact on consumer demand. For example, it was interesting to learn that time-using devices diffused much faster than time-saving devices. At first glance, I had hypothesized that time-saving devices such as kitchen appliances would have been utilized and purchased more quickly because they would allow home-makers to have time for other activities. I was surprised to learn that time-using devices such as the radio and television actually diffused more quickly. This presents an interesting point about consumer preferences. Consumers tend to prefer quality of the time they spend relaxing or doing other things rather than the quantity of it. Because of this fact, Bowden and Offer explain that technological change has thus found it easier to increase attraction of leisure rather than reduce the burden of housework. As a result, time using appliances have been more innovating than time-saving devices.

Matthew Cohen

I’m not surprised by the fact that TV and radio diffused far more quickly than the “time-saving” devices. What interested me more was their discussion on the reasons for spending such a disproportionate amount of time watching and the effects of television on the family. That television, a time-using device has withdrawal symptoms is noticeably disturbing to me. TV is used as a substitute for “social interaction and to ward off feelings of loneliness,” and heavier viewers were described as experiencing far more negative feelings when they weren’t watching TV than others. Simply describing watching as a ‘hedonic treadmill’ really speaks to our society today, especially considering how many violent TV shows are happening on average per hour when compared with the last 50 years of television.

Sean Salas

Bowden and Offer study of the quicker diffusion of “time-using” goods in comparison to “time-saving” goods provides a great foundation in understanding two subjective calculating factors of marginal utility – consumer psychological preferences and social norms. Concerning consumer psychological preferences, the scholars demonstrate how consumers are more prone to improving the quality to their leisure time as opposed to increasing the absolute time of their leisure (732). We see this argument take form as Bowden and Offers show us consumers were extremely receptive to purchasing the radio and television although these goods did not improve the time of their leisure such as with the purchase of a vacuum cleaner and refrigerator. Another subjective factor of utility are social norms. In this case, the scholar claim saving time in the household was not a priority since women where spending as much time in their household in the 1960s in comparison to the 1920s since women in the household was the social norms of these times (733-744). Interesting enough, as women began enter the workforce, and thus, decrease average time of women in the household followed a quicker diffusion of time-saving products! Overall, this is a great article that successfully and clearly identifies vital subjective factors shape trends in consumer behavior within the US.

Peter Li

The authors of this paper study the diffusion of time-using and time-saving devices and conclude that time-using devices diffuse much more quickly than its counterparts. They then mention how the marginal benefit people derive from activities like watching TV is greater than the benefit obtained from saving time on washing clothes. Consequently, the development and improvement of time-using technology was much faster than that of time-saving technology due to stronger demand for time-using technology.

I did not find these results to be too surprising. TV and radio offered new forms of entertainment that were easily accessible and highly stimulatory, which makes it believable that it slowly displaced traditional forms of entertainment that required more effort. I can also see why many Britons would sacrifice 1M pounds for TV. Assuming that time-using technology like TVs are luxury goods (or at least normal goods), those that make a lot of money would want to be able to spend it on these devices, especially if they signal one's status, as argued in the paper. Having a million pounds and only being able to buy time-saving technology would likely be boring for most.

Eric Regan

In their article exploring why some household appliances have diffused faster than others in the U.S. and Britain, Bowden and Offer argue that consumers historically have given more priority to products that enhance the quality of one's discretionary time (what they call "time-using" appliances like radio and television) rather than increasing the quantity of one's discretionary time (with "time-saving" appliances such as washing machines and vacuum cleaners). Of the various explanations the authors propose, the one I find the most interesting is the innovative quality of time-using durables to continually redevelop and restructure the industry technology so that consumers feel inclined to buy the latest and most updated commodity offered in the market. The examples given in the article include the television replacing the radio following its introduction after WWII, and color TV replacing black-and-white TV through the 1960s and 1970s. The innovative characteristic of time-using appliances is still apparent today with the advent of satellite, Tivo, and HD compelling customers to invest in the latest technology and advancing the diffusion of these products more than their time-saving counterparts which have not evolved or developed as much over time.

Alice Kousoum

I found that the discussion concerning the human mind and boredom to be most appealing. In the article, Offer and Bowden discuss how an organism finds the lack of stimulation restful only temporarily until it starts to seek psychic arousal. However it is interesting how the mind does not seek the utmost optimal level of arousal. Instead, society chooses lower levels of stimulation such as TV rather than sports or conversation. From this I can clearly conclude that the economy would be much more efficient if it transferred its energy and wealth away from entertainment – time using appliances- and more towards time saving. If appliances such as cars or sports which have the elements of both time using and time saving were used to replace television, then more economic efficiency would be restored as healthier and faster moving people (due to cars) would produce more output. This in its entirety would create a stronger country all together.

Tushar Kumar

I was initially surprised that time-using goods sold faster than time-saving goods. It seems logical to buy products that would maximize efficiency so one would not have to labor as long. Another rather shocking analysis was that people were substituting time in front of the television for family. The opportunity cost for an hour of television has increased since its introduction into the market. It's interesting to see these facts and asses where I lie on the spectrum.
Individuals were spending money on credit for these time-using goods, which shows how much consumers value these distractions. The article suggests that pure fascination for electronic goods could have spurred the sale of these items.

Minna Howell

In this article Bowden and Offer argue that the rapid diffusion of time-using goods in comparison with time-saving goods can be explained by the greater priority consumers place on the quality of discretionary time rather than its quantity. They also argue that time-using goods, such as televisions and radios, provide sensual arousal and an immediate form of gratification which led the demand for TV and radio to be somewhat insensitive to price or income. I found their argument that time-using goods were status symbols and thus in greater demand than time-saving goods fairly weak as time-saving goods can also be viewed as status symbols and vary in quality and price depending on a consumer's income (among other factors). I also found their comments on television to be rather obvious and self-evident.

It is appalling that in the mid-1970's husbands performed less than ten percent of routine domestic work and unfortunate that because of social and cultural norms time-saving goods did not initially decrease the amount of time spent on household work. Though I agree with their reasons as to why there has been more innovation for time-using goods, perhaps this article can, and should be used as an advocate in shifting innovation into the realm of time-saving goods.

Jenna Lee

It's interesting to note that this article portrays customers more as people who want to spend their money not to save time, but to use their time. This idea reminds me a lot of the theory of conspicuous consumption and consumers using their money to show off their higher class and their ability to use their time for leisure rather than solely productive purposes. It all seems a little strange to think about things like this because buying a time-saving good will in the long run save time leaving the consumer more leisure time anyway. However, without this time-using good, the consumer cannot show off this ability. Time-using goods like the radio and television are said to enhance the quality of this leisure time -- but is it really just the enhancement of the quality of leisure or is it also bragging rights in the neighborhood? Perhaps a family will feel inferior to their next door neighbor if they don't have one while "everyone else" does. What does this say about society and about how much people care about what other people think of them? It's a little strange to think that things that we deem necessary for a household today like a refrigerator took longer to sink into American society than a television did when a fridge obviously has tons more functionality. This article was particularly interesting in that it noted the gender differential, which is a huge factor in my opinion in why time-using goods spread a lot quicker than time-saving goods given that the men work and come home hoping to find something to do with their leisure time at home and wanting to "rest their brain". Time-saving goods would in their point of view benefit the women more and to them is therefore less of a necessity. Lastly, it makes sense that the goods that are both time-saving and time-using goods are in high demand and consumers get huge amounts of utility from them. Overall, the article pointed out many facts and inferences about consumer goods that I never would have thought of.

Ryan Smrekar

The diffusion of household appliances is an extremely logical argument, and one that focuses upon the difference between time saving appliances and time consuming appliances. The biggest diffusion comes in the form of time consuming appliances, such as the TV, radio, and today, the internet. I found it interesting how they integrated some psychology into the discussion, as they used “physcographics” to explain how some individuals value different time consuming appliances more than others, based upon personal values. Thinking about my own situation, I most certainly buy newer athletic or entertainment appliances than I do vacuum cleaners or microwaves. That’s due to the technological progress that has been made in these fields and consumers’ willingness to buy those improvements. I have had the same DVD player since my freshman year, but right now I can go on the market and purchase an HD player that will supposedly enhance my DVD entertainment experience. It’s all about finding a niche or entry into the market and capitalizing upon that comparative advantage. There is little incentive for someone to purchase a new vacuum that will accomplish the same job.

Andrew Grosshans

Analyzing the different diffusion rates of home entertainment appliances and household and kitchen machines, Bowden and Offer conclude that “time-using” goods have diffused at a much faster rate than “time-saving” goods in America and Great Britain for a number of possible economic, social, and psychological reasons. Distinguishing “time-saving” goods that increase the quantity of discretionary time from “time-using” goods that enhance the perceived quality of discretionary time, Bowden and Offer argue that the separate diffusion rates indicate that individuals have preferred increases in the quality of their discretionary time to increases in the quantity of that time. Interestingly, however, the introduction of “time-saving” goods like washing machines had little effect in increasing the leisure time of women. Incredibly, Bowden and Offer note that little change in the amount of time women spent on housework occurred from the 1920s to the 1960s. The authors argue that persisting cultural and social norms that “identified women with housework and specified rising standards of house care” (734) limited the impact of “time-saving” goods in increasing the discretionary time of women. Interestingly, then, instead of increasing discretionary time, many “time-saving” goods simply increased the amount of work that women were expected to perform over a given period of time. Evident from their final analysis, any explanation of the difference in diffusion rates considering only economic or social or psychological factors while ignoring the influence of the others would seem largely incomplete.

Kyle Jeffery

I found it interesting that the time spent cleaning house was not any less in 1960 than in 1920 (733), as it illustrates that although we possess the ability to increase efficiency, the human tendency to strive for improvement and stimulation negates any saving of time. Quality of life and cleanliness of homes has improved, and free time has been enhanced with television, radio, and the internet, so the trade-off can be seen as welcome, even if the amount of time spent cleaning remains the same. Seeing as how time-using technology advances and diffuses more quickly than time-saving goods, it is no surprise that the two categories cross paths with creations of in-car DVD players, vacuum cleaners with multicolored LED “dirt sensors”, and cellular phones loaded with ever-increasing features. The future will hold more of these “hybrids” that make even the most mundane tasks enjoyable, and further increasing the amount of leisure time available for all.

chris guarini

The article discusses the diffusion of technology in the households of Americans and how some of them didn’t save as much time for housewives as they probably should have. I found it interesting that most of the particular households that a survey was performed on would not give up T.V. for one month in exchange for $500. Consumers who valued security, respect and social values had a greater utility for luxury products. Time-saving durables affected the use of time but not in a way that one might expect. Women were still staying in the house the same amount of time despite the technological advances. Washing machines saved time in the conventional sense, but in effect they just washed loads of clothes more often and did not end up saving any time using a washing machine anyway. Same principle goes for the use of the vacuum cleaner because housewives just cleaned the floors more frequently. And then something we all knew, but just denied all along was the idea that television influenced violent incidents when they showed abstainers from television reported boredom, nervousness and depression.

Andrew Fong

In the article by Bowden and Offer, the authors discuss the gradual innovation and consumption patterns between the two dominant types of appliances. Although intuitively, it may seem that households might consume more time-saving appliances as opposed to time-using, surprising the opposite occurs in most households nowadays. The important reasoning behind this argument is the fact the humans are constantly trying to improve the way they spend their discretionary time. For example, today we have computers and TVs which are constantly being innovated with more and more features being added as we speak. The typical consumer is willing to spend a greater portion of his/her income to upgrade the quality of their discretionary time with time-using appliances then on time-saving appliances. I believe this argument is totally valid in the US and Great Britain, but it doesn’t really address everybody else. Other countries with different cultural backgrounds may find it more worthwhile to spend their income on time-saving appliances because time-using appliances may seem to be an unnecessary luxury.

John Janda

The authors of this paper illustrate the importance of psychological and social factors in determining the consumption of various types of time-using and time-saving goods. Because time-using goods were status symbols as well as a way to spend one’s time, time-using goods were able to diffuse throughout the market quickly. I would have anticipated that people would have purchased time-saving goods much more quickly as people always seem to be complaining about “never having enough time.” This paper does a good job of showing that time-using goods were able to quickly spread throughout the market due to their higher perceived utility amongst consumers.
With that being said, if I understand the “household penetration” charts properly, I must say that I’m not too fond of some of the items that the authors use in their analysis on Table 1. Logically, some of the items should diffuse at different rates due to their changes in utility. Telephones, for example, become more useful as more and more people have them as each person who already posses a telephone is now able to call more people. Thus the usefulness of a telephone is based upon whether you have one as well as how many other people have them. Perhaps these items had little initial utility and therefore little market penetration. Other items that the authors use in their model, such as a can opener, likely gain little (if any) additional utility based upon your neighbors also possessing a can opener. This makes the comparison of market penetration of an intermediate level very difficult to analyze. I feel that comparing items with externalities to those without externalities makes for a rather weak argument.

Jerry Hong

Bowden and Offer presents an argument to explain why some kinds of appliances diffuse more rapidly that others. They note the usual theory of consumer demand and diffusion of durables in the population, but none of the conventional theories can explain the difference in the rate of diffusion. Thus, they bring forth the idea of "time-saving" and "time-using" goods. I really enjoy there analysis in that "time-using" goods diffuse faster because they increase people's utility for free time. On the other hand, "time-saving" appliances do save people's time; however, there's a great probability that the time saved is used to do more work. Hence, people do not get as great of a utility from these types of appliances as they would with "time-using" goods. To me this is very interesting because I would have guessed that "time-saving" goods would diffuse faster. People always say that they wish they have more time, and these products would enable them to get more time. However, the diffusion rate of products do not just depend on how much of a person's time the product saves. It depends on something more fundamental in economics - utility.

However, I would like to know what the diffusion rate of "time-using" goods would be for similar goods. If Bowden and Offer's theory is correct, I would predict that for new goods that are similar to past "time-using" goods, it might not diffuse as fast. This is because I would expect the utility for the new product to not be as great. If we compare products like this to "time-saving " goods, which one have a faster diffusion rate? I guess that also depends on what "time-saving" appliances we are talking about too.

Luke Brennan

I found Bowden and Offers basic premise very compelling. It was exciting to see how the demand functions for the two sets of durables could deviate so strongly from what a standard economic explanation might predict, that is, what might be expected in the absence of the various social pressures that shaped the diffusion of these products. It was especially interesting to see how the social expectations of housewives prevented the sudden diffusion of the time-saving durables. These products did in fact save time, but instead of using this time on leisure as might be expected, housewives simply were able to accomplish more household labor in about the same quantity of time. This contrasts sharply with the sudden diffusion exhibited by time-using durables such as television, from which the husband could improve his leisure time, and which also bolstered social status. This suggests that, to a certain extent, humans are not as impressed with the luxury of free time in the same way that they are impressed with the fruits of labor.

Luke Brennan

I found Bowden and Offers basic premise very compelling. It was exciting to see how the demand functions for the two sets of durables could deviate so strongly from what a standard economic explanation might predict, that is, what might be expected in the absence of the various social pressures that shaped the diffusion of these products. It was especially interesting to see how the social expectations of housewives prevented the sudden diffusion of the time-saving durables. These products did in fact save time, but instead of using this time on leisure as might be expected, housewives simply were able to accomplish more household labor in about the same quantity of time. This contrasts sharply with the sudden diffusion exhibited by time-using durables such as television, from which the husband could improve his leisure time, and which also bolstered social status. This suggests that, to a certain extent, humans are not as impressed with the luxury of free time in the same way that they are impressed with the fruits of labor.

Robert M Lee

Bowden and Offer provide an interesting microeconomic take on time-saving and time-using appliances and how their different diffusion rates depends on how the goods effect our discretionary time. At first, it’s surprising to learn that time-using appliances diffuse at a higher rate than time-saving ones. However, it makes sense that most of these appliances are goods that are meant to increase the quality of our free time rather than simply increasing the quantity of it. It also makes sense that most of these time-using goods are electronics and also tends to enhance our social status. Many of them are big-ticket items, such as tv’s, and they are frequently coming out with newer and better models. Overall there is rapid advancement in technology in time-using goods and a fast turnover rate. People who pay attention to their social status would want to have these status symbols if they can afford it, and really, who doesn’t like tv in high-def?

Kevin Nakahara

Most of the reasons I could think of that would explain why time-using appliances diffuse faster than time-saving appliances seemed to show up in one form or another in the article. In the simplest terms and by definition, time-using appliances elicit much more extensive and prolonged use than time-saving appliances, resulting in steadily decreasing marginal utility with time. Combined with rapidly increasing advances in entertainment technology and rapidly decreasing prices in appliances, consumers are quick to justify purchasing time-using appliances at a high rate. Time-saving appliances exhibit much of the contrary attributes. By design, they do not require much time, resulting in lesser decreases in marginal utility with interactive use, and their use is seen more as a chore than a pastime. Also, their prices and technology have remained about the same, meaning that consumers are even less prone to purchase new appliances. Whether the result of this is good or not for society is up to decision from the individual. I for one am not ashamed to say I'd like to get a new TV and XBox 360. At the same time, I use laundromat washing machines, and am in need to buy my own.

Kevin Nakahara

Oops, for the last sentence, I meant to say of washing machines, "I am in NO need to buy my own." Sorry.

Katelynn Nguyen

Bowden and Offer article significantly discusses the subjects of leisure goods and appliances in the American and British households. Among the households there have been a great increase in the usage of appliances, nonetheless, the diffusion of different appliances have ranged variously. The authors presented their argument on the diffusion rates of the appliances using a logistic growth curve, showing that the difference in the diffusion rates is a result of different satisfaction that the appliance provides for the consumer. Despite the fact that the curve does not explain why the rates have changed over time, the article attempts to explain why commodities are sources of utility. Also, it explains that commodities have two types, which are time-saving and time-using, which explains the different levels of utility provided by the good. Even among the increase in appliances, there have been discrepancies as to the rapid diffusion of certain types of appliances. Time-using products such as radio and television have diffused much faster and the utility received has decreased over. Satisfaction and allocation of time and resources to receive such satisfaction is dependent on the individual and how each person assesses the value of their discretionary time. Developing technology and fast diffusion of new products allows for constant new items satisfy the user, while time-saving goods have not changed much in function and purpose and since, do not continually add utility to the consumer's satisfaction level.

Tanya Chang

It is interesting to read that time-using appliance diffuses at a higher rate than that of time-saving appliances. However, this makes sense because time-using appliances enhance the quality of life, while time-saving appliances merely allowed people to accomplish more housework in the same amount of time. Time-saving appliances didn’t allow for more leisure time for a variety of reasons, including a higher expectations in cleanliness and the fact that women were still expected to take care of household chores. Therefore, even though time-saving appliances provided more free-time, they only allowed women to do even more work than they otherwise would’ve done without the appliances. In addition, time-saving appliances are durable goods and do not need to be replaced quickly. It is further not surprising that time-using appliances diffuses at a higher rate because they are targeted towards entertainment. People are more interested in technology and how it will eliminate their boredom and entertain them in their free time. Constant changes and improvement in technology’s ability entertain increase people’s interests in buying the latest and best appliance on the market. I think it is important to take into account the socioeconomic conditions during the time period when analyzing the diffusion of time-saving appliances compared to that of time-using appliances.

Tanya Chang

It is interesting to read that time-using appliance diffuses at a higher rate than that of time-saving appliances. However, this makes sense because time-using appliances enhance the quality of life, while time-saving appliances merely allowed people to accomplish more housework in the same amount of time. Time-saving appliances didn’t allow for more leisure time for a variety of reasons, including a higher expectations in cleanliness and the fact that women were still expected to take care of household chores. Therefore, even though time-saving appliances provided more free-time, they only allowed women to do even more work than they otherwise would’ve done without the appliances. In addition, time-saving appliances are durable goods and do not need to be replaced quickly. It is further not surprising that time-using appliances diffuses at a higher rate because they are targeted towards entertainment. People are more interested in technology and how it will eliminate their boredom and entertain them in their free time. Constant changes and improvement in technology’s ability entertain increase people’s interests in buying the latest and best appliance on the market. I think it is important to take into account the socioeconomic conditions during the time period when analyzing the diffusion of time-saving appliances compared to that of time-using appliances.

Tanya Chang

It is interesting to read that time-using appliance diffuses at a higher rate than that of time-saving appliances. However, this makes sense because time-using appliances enhance the quality of life, while time-saving appliances merely allowed people to accomplish more housework in the same amount of time. Time-saving appliances didn’t allow for more leisure time for a variety of reasons, including a higher expectations in cleanliness and the fact that women were still expected to take care of household chores. Therefore, even though time-saving appliances provided more free-time, they only allowed women to do even more work than they otherwise would’ve done without the appliances. In addition, time-saving appliances are durable goods and do not need to be replaced quickly. It is further not surprising that time-using appliances diffuses at a higher rate because they are targeted towards entertainment. People are more interested in technology and how it will eliminate their boredom and entertain them in their free time. Constant changes and improvement in technology’s ability entertain increase people’s interests in buying the latest and best appliance on the market. I think it is important to take into account the socioeconomic conditions during the time period when analyzing the diffusion of time-saving appliances compared to that of time-using appliances.

Chung Leung

Even if all of the implications made in the Bowden and Offer article are not entirely convincing, they are at least suggestive. As others have mentioned, it does make logical sense for a time-using appliance to diffuse faster than time-saving.

Nevertheless, this article provides some pretty big surprises, many which were probably not expected of such markets before they materialized. If I were an economist, and i was to hypothesize as to whether a machine that cooks food in five minutes or a machine that picks up video signals would become prominant market goods, I would have guessed the microwave.

To step even farther out there, I would consider the evidence and implications in this article as further proof that rationality of incentives is not an assumption one can make. At the very least, it suggests that the negative effects of television are completely unforseen when one visits the electronics store.

David M. Aviles

The article discusses an interesting topic in regards to utility, technology, and progression among commodities. I feel that the time using appliances were diffused at a higher rate than the time saving appliances for the simple fact that whomever is cleaning knows that if they clean faster they have more time to clean other things. But in a society where technology is constantly outgrowing itself, time saving is seen as a chore. There isn't that comfortable feeling of taking out the utensils our parents used or maybe even our grandparents. It can be reflected in the laziness of society. Sometimes when something considered to be work is made so easy, people don't try as hard. For example, there are robot vacuums. If someone is supposed to vacuum and sweep and mop, the robot gets turned on but now sweeping and mopping seem so hard to something that was comparable in difficulty before. Although no explanation is made for the discrepancies over time, I believe as technology makes life easier, it will only grow more complex.

David M. Aviles

The article discusses an interesting topic in regards to utility, technology, and progression among commodities. I feel that the time using appliances were diffused at a higher rate than the time saving appliances for the simple fact that whomever is cleaning knows that if they clean faster they have more time to clean other things. But in a society where technology is constantly outgrowing itself, time saving is seen as a chore. There isn't that comfortable feeling of taking out the utensils our parents used or maybe even our grandparents. It can be reflected in the laziness of society. Sometimes when something considered to be work is made so easy, people don't try as hard. For example, there are robot vacuums. If someone is supposed to vacuum and sweep and mop, the robot gets turned on but now sweeping and mopping seem so hard to something that was comparable in difficulty before. Although no explanation is made for the discrepancies over time, I believe as technology makes life easier, it will only grow more complex.

The comments to this entry are closed.

From Brad DeLong

Search Brad DeLong's Website

  •  
Brad DeLong's Schedule

About Brad DeLong

Grasping Reality with Both Hands: Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal

Pages