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Consumers' Opinion of Inflation Bias Due to Quality Improvements

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  • Hanousek, Jan
  • Filer, Randall K

Abstract

Measurement of quality changes has proven to be an especially difficult aspect of calculating unbiased rates of inflation. We propose a new methodology of capturing quality improvements based on consumer focus groups and apply this methodology in an environment where quality changes might be expected to be especially rapid and extensive, a post-Communist transition economy. We find that the methodology indicates a substantial understatement of quality improvements during transition, and, therefore, a substantial overstatement of inflation, resulting in a serious downward bias in growth rate estimates for post-Communist economies. The move to free markets has apparently improved consumers' welfare more by improving what they can purchase than by increasing how much they can purchase. Overall, mismeasurement of quality changes may have understated Czech growth rates during the first decade after Communism by as much as 5 percentage points per year.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Economic Development and Cultural Change.

Volume (Year): 53 (2004)
Issue (Month): 1 (October)
Pages: 235-54

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:ecdecc:y:2004:v:53:i:1:p:235-54

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References

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  1. Feenstra, R.C., 1995. "Exact Hedonic Price Indexes," Papers 95-11, California Davis - Institute of Governmental Affairs.
  2. Mark Bils & Peter J. Klenow, 2001. "Quantifying Quality Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 1006-1030, September.
  3. Filer, Randall K. & Hanousek, Jan, 2002. "Survey-Based Estimates of Biases in Consumer Price Indices during Transition: Evidence from Romania," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 476-487, September.
  4. Paul A. Armknecht & Fenella Maitland-Smith, 1999. "Price Imputation and Other Techniques for Dealing with Missing Observations, Seasonality and Quality Change in Price Indices," IMF Working Papers 99/78, International Monetary Fund.
  5. Nick Hanley & Gary Koop & Begoña Álvarez-Farizo & Robert E. Wright & Ceara Nevin, 2001. "Go climb a mountain: an application of recreation demand modelling to rock climbing in Scotland," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(1), pages 36-52.
  6. Kaplowitz, Michael D. & Hoehn, John P., 2001. "Do focus groups and individual interviews reveal the same information for natural resource valuation?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 237-247, February.
  7. Kolstad, Charles D. & Guzman, Rolando M., 1999. "Information and the Divergence between Willingness to Accept and Willingness to Pay," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 66-80, July.
  8. Shogren, Jason F. & Shin, Seung Youll & Hayes, Dermot J. & Kliebenstein, James, 1994. "Resolving Differences in Willingness to Pay and Willingness to Accept," Staff General Research Papers 701, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  9. Michael J. Boskin, 1998. "Consumer Prices, the Consumer Price Index, and the Cost of Living," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(1), pages 3-26, Winter.
  10. Charles R. Hulten, 1997. "Quality change in the CPI," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 87-100.
  11. Kontogianni, Areti & Skourtos, Mihalis S. & Langford, Ian H. & Bateman, Ian J. & Georgiou, Stavros, 2001. "Integrating stakeholder analysis in non-market valuation of environmental assets," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 123-138, April.
  12. Wiktor L. Adamowicz & Vinay Bhardwaj & Bruce Macnab, 1993. "Experiments on the Difference between Willingness to Pay and Willingness to Accept," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 69(4), pages 416-427.
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Cited by:
  1. Jan Babecký & Fabrizio Coricelli & Roman Horváth, 2009. "Assessing Inflation Persistence: Micro Evidence on an Inflation Targeting Economy," Czech Journal of Economics and Finance (Finance a uver), Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, vol. 59(2), pages 102-127, June.
  2. Jan Bruha & Jiri Podpiera & Stanislav Polák, 2007. "The Convergence Dynamics of a Transition Economy," IMF Working Papers 07/116, International Monetary Fund.
  3. Jan Bruha & Jiri Podpiera & Stanislav Polak, 2007. "The Convergence of a Transition Economy: The Case of the Czech Republic," Working Papers 2007/3, Czech National Bank, Research Department.
  4. Ashoka Mody & Franziska Ohnsorge, 2007. "Can Domestic Policies Influence Inflation?," IMF Working Papers 07/257, International Monetary Fund.
  5. Bruha, Jan & Podpiera, Jirí, 2007. "Transition economy convergence in a two-country model: implications for monetary integration," Working Paper Series 0740, European Central Bank.

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