High gas prices must be forcing Americans to cut back in other ways, right? That’s what the economists Lutz Kilian at the University of Michigan and Paul Edelstein of the consulting firm IHS Global Insight wondered. They looked at personal spending habits during periods of high energy prices and discovered that “somewhat surprisingly, there is no significant decline in total expenditures on recreation,” which was one place they expected to find frugality. More specifically, rising gas prices had “no significant effect on the consumption of movies, bowling and billiard[s], casino gambling and only insignificant declines for recreational camps, sightseeing, spectator sports and spectator amusements.” Some people bought fewer lottery tickets, they told me.

In other words, Americans may protest loudly, but their economic behavior indicates a remarkable indifference to the price of oil.

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