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You get 67 percent more toys for your time than five years ago.

Toybundance

By Gale Pooley @gpooley

Americans love toys. While we represent only 4.25 percent of the world’s population, we buy 34.3 percent of the toys sold on the planet. Out of the $95 billion of global toy sales in 2020, U.S. consumers spent approximately $32.6 billion.

Why do we buy so many toys? It could be that we love the prices. The Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks the price of toys and reports that since 2016 prices have decreased from an index value of 39.7 to 28.9, or 27.2 percent.

Since we buy things with money but pay for them with time, it’s better to analyze the cost of toys using Time Prices. To calculate the Time Price, we divide the nominal price by the nominal wage rate. That will give us the number of hours of work required to earn enough money to buy our toys.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, average blue-collar hourly wages increased by 21.5 percent from $21.72 per hour in 2016 to $26.40 in 2021. If the price of toys decreases by 27.3 percent and wages increase by 21.5 percent, the time price of toys declines by 40.1 percent.

If you spend the same amount of time working to earn toy money in 2021 as you did in 2016, you get 67 percent more toys. Toy abundance is growing at a compound annual rate of around 10.8 percent a year. We get twice as many toys every 6.75 years for the same amount of time.

Enjoy buying and receiving toys this Christmas, and don’t forget to thank the millions of ingenious and entrepreneurial toy creators that make life so fun for the rest of us.

Professor Gale L. Pooley teaches economics at Brigham Young University, Hawaii. He is a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute and a board member of HumanProgress.org

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