How much does the U.S. economy depend on purchases of goods and services people don’t absolutely need?
As it turns out, quite a lot. A non-scientific study of Commerce Department data suggests that in February, U.S. consumers spent an annualized $1.2 trillion on non-essential stuff including pleasure boats, jewelry, booze, gambling and candy. That’s 11.2% of total consumer spending, up from 9.3% a decade earlier and only 4% in 1959, adjusted for inflation.
Even filtering for actual quality of life enhancers (a man says his doctor tells him he can live longer if he gives up rich food and sex; rabbi says, You call that living?), that's a lot of money.