The Social Cost-of-Living: Welfare Foundations and Estimation
AbstractWe present a new class of social cost-of-living indices and a nonparametric framework for estimating these and other social cost-of-living indices. Common social cost-of-living indices can be understood as aggregator functions of approximations of individual cost-of-living indices. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is the expenditure-weighted average of first-order approximations of each individual’s cost-of-living index. This is troubling for three reasons. First, it has not been shown to have a welfare economic foundation for the case where agents are heterogeneous (as they clearly are.) Second, it uses an expenditure-weighted average which downweights the experience of poor households relative to rich households. Finally, it uses only first-order approximations of each individual’s cost-of-living index, and thus ignores substitution effects. We propose a “common-scaling” social cost-of-living index, which is defined as the single scaling to everyone’s expenditure which holds social welfare constant across a price change. Our approach has an explicit social welfare foundation and allows us to choose the weights on the costs of rich and poor households. We also give a unique solution for the welfare function for the case where the weights are independent of household expenditure. A first order approximation of our social cost-of-living index nests as special cases commonly used indices such as the CPI. We also provide a nonparametric method for estimating second-order approximations (which account for substitution effects).
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by McMaster University in its series Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers with number 155.
Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2006
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Inflation; Social cost-of-living; Demand; Average derivatives;
Other versions of this item:
- Thomas Crossley & Krishna Pendakur, 2006. "The social cost-of-living: welfare foundations and estimation," IFS Working Papers W06/10, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
- Thomas F. Crossley & Krishna Pendakur, 2006. "The Social Cost-of-Living: Welfare Foundations and Estimation," Quantitative Studies in Economics and Population Research Reports 407, McMaster University.
- D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
- D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
- D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
- E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
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