Market Visions: Expenditure Surveys, Market Research, and Economic Planning in the New Deal
Thomas A. Stapleford
University of Notre Dame
Journal of American History, Vol. 94, No. 2, pp. 418-444, September 2007
This essay examines the empirical research into consumer demand that underpinned the consumption-based political economy of the later New Deal. My focus is the Study of Consumer Purchases, a major federal investigation into family income and expenditures conducted during 1935-36. I explain how the objectives of this project differed from earlier, more familiar "cost-of-living" studies, how it fit with statist versions of economic planning during the 1930s, and why it largely failed to aid left-wing economic programs but instead proved a long-term boon to advertisers and market research professionals. An online version of the essay is available at the History Cooperative for anyone with an individual or institutional subscription to the Journal of American History.
Keywords: expenditure surveys, market research, economic planning, New Deal
JEL Classification: B23, B25Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: October 25, 2007 ; Last revised: January 15, 2008
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