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The International Comparison Program: Current Status and Problems

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  • Irving B. Kravis
  • Robert E. Lipsey

Abstract

This paper reviews the International Comparison Program (ICP), a worldwide effort to produce international comparisons of real GDP and its components and purchasing power parities of currencies (PPPs). The robustness of results and future work are considered. A generous estimate of margins of uncertainty in the benchmark estimates might be 20-25 per cent for low-income countries and 7 per cent for high-income countries. The errors in extrapolations to countries not covered by the surveys could go as high as 30-35 per cent. That is still a small range of error compared to that stemming from the use of exchange rates to convert own-currency to common currency measures of output. Furthermore, exchange rate conversions are even more sensitive to methodology than PPP conversions. The notion that exchange comparisons rest on a simple and transparent procedure using standard market data is illusory. The future of ICP measures seems assured in Europe, particularly in the European Community. The prospects for systematic worldwide comparisons do not look as bright. A renewed effort by the United Nations Statistical Office and the World Bank would be needed to maintain an ICP with comprehensive coverage and comparable methods in all major regions.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 3304.

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Date of creation: Mar 1990
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Publication status: published as International Economic Transactions: Issues in Measurement and Empirical Research, edited by Peter Hooper and J. David Richardson, pp. 437-464. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1991.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3304

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  1. Bhagwati, Jagdish N, 1984. "Why Are Services Cheaper in the Poor Countries?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 94(374), pages 279-86, June.
  2. Hill, T P, 1977. "On Goods and Services," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 23(4), pages 315-38, December.
  3. Irving B. Kravis & Robert E. Lipsey, 1982. "Towards an Explanation of National Price Levels," NBER Working Papers 1034, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Leandro Prados de la Escosura, 2010. "Improving human development: a long-run view," Working Papers in Economic History wp10-07, Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Historia Económica e Instituciones.
  2. Levine, Ross & Renelt, David, 1991. "A sensitivity analysis of cross-country growth regressions," Policy Research Working Paper Series 609, The World Bank.
  3. Stockman, Alan C & Tesar, Linda L, 1995. "Tastes and Technology in a Two-Country Model of the Business Cycle: Explaining International Comovements," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 168-85, March.
  4. Jaime Marquez & Charles Thomas & Corinne Land, 2012. "International relative price levels: a look under the hood," International Finance Discussion Papers, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) 1055, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  5. Magnus Blomström & Linda S. Goldberg, 2001. "Introduction to "Topics in Empirical International Economics: A Festschrift in Honor of Robert E. Lipsey"," NBER Chapters, in: Topics in Empirical International Economics: A Festschrift in Honor of Robert E. Lipsey, pages 1-14 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Robert E. Lipsey & Birgitta Swedenborg, 1993. "The High Cost of Eating: Agricultural Protection and International Differences in Consumer Food Prices," NBER Working Papers 4555, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Charles P. Thomas & Jaime Marquez & Sean Fahle, 2008. "Measuring U.S. international relative prices: a WARP view of the world," International Finance Discussion Papers, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) 917, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  8. Milka S. Kirova & Robert E. Lipsey, 1997. "Does the United States invest "too little?"," Working Papers, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis 1997-020, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  9. Peter Hooper & Elizabeth Vrankovich, 1995. "International comparisons of the levels of unit labor costs in manufacturing," International Finance Discussion Papers, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) 527, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  10. Ahmad, Sultan, 1992. "Regression estimates of per capital gross domestic product based on purchasing power parities," Policy Research Working Paper Series 956, The World Bank.
  11. Michaël Freudenberg & Deniz Ünal-Kesenci, 1994. "French and German Productivity Levels in Manufacturing: A Comparison Based on the Industry-of-Origin Method," Working Papers 1994-10, CEPII research center.
  12. G.A. Meagher, 1993. "The International Comparison Project as a Source of Private Consumption Data for a Global Input-Output Model," Centre of Policy Studies/IMPACT Centre Working Papers ip-62, Victoria University, Centre of Policy Studies/IMPACT Centre.

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