Working Papers, Department of Economics, University of Vienna 0602
Different family types may have a fixed flow of consumption costs, related to subsistence needs. We use a survey method in order to identify and estimate such a fixed component of spending for different families. Our method involves making direct questions about the linkup between aggregate disposable family income and well-being for different family types. Conducting our survey in six countries, Germany, France, Cyprus, China, India and Botswana, we provide evidence that fixed costs of consumption are embedded in welfare evaluations of respondents. More precisely, we find that the formalized relationship between welfare-retaining aggregate family incomes across different family types, suggested by Donaldson and Pendakur (2005) and termed “Generalized Absolute Equivalence Scale Exactness,” is prevalent and robust in our data. We use this relationship to identify subsistence needs of different family types and to calculate income inequality.