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Journal of the
Music & Entertainment Industry Educators Association
Volume 11, Number 1 (2011)

Quantitative Analysis of Entertainment Consumption: 1984-2009

Stuart J. Fowler
Middle Tennessee State University

Jennifer J. Fowler
Belmont University


    Entertainment, as defined by Merriam Webster (1967), is “the act of diverting, amusing, or causing someone’s time to pass agreeably.” In its simplest form, entertainment relates to leisure. If American consumers spend about twenty-five percent of their time working, then seventy five percent of the time is spent in leisure—sleeping, watching television, participating in sports—suggesting their consumption on entertainment is nontrivial. Indeed, government data indicate that it is a large sector of our economy. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (2011), real personal consumption expenditures on recreational goods and services1 in 2009 totaled $711.1 billion or 5.5 percent of U.S. real gross domestic product. Unfortunately, there is a dearth of information on the quantitative nature of entertainment consumption. Previous research tends to focus on firm rather than consumer behavior with regard to the entertainment sector (Fort 2010, Vogel 2011). Additionally, while a large amount of research has been undertaken with respect to household resource allocation in general (e.g., Attanasio and Borella 2006, Bonke and Browning 2009, Charles and Stephens 2006, Gowrisankaran and Rysman 2009) little is known about how U.S. households allocate resources to the differing components of entertainment consumption. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to quantitatively document the structure of entertainment consumption in the United States over time. Naturally, entertainment industry practitioners will find the results useful, and because entertainment courses are being offered at greater frequencies across universities in the United States and abroad, educators will find the results of this research applicable to the classroom.

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