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Rationalizing the Penn World Table: True Multilateral Indices for International Comparisons of Real Income

  • J. Peter Neary

Real incomes are routinely compared internationally using methods that "correct" for deviations from purchasing power parity. The most widely used of these is the Geary method which, though theoretically suspect, underlies the Penn World Table. This paper provides a theoretical foundation for the Geary method which I call the GAIA ( "Geary-Allen International Accounts" ) system. I show that the Geary method is exact when preferences are non-homothetic Leontief and, more generally, gives a ( possibly poor ) approximation to the GAIA benchmark. An empirical application suggests that both it and other widely used methods underestimate the degree of international inequality.

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 94 (2004)
Issue (Month): 5 (December)
Pages: 1411-1428

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:94:y:2004:i:5:p:1411-1428
Note: DOI: 10.1257/0002828043052286
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  1. Samuelson, Paul A & Swamy, S, 1974. "Invariant Economic Index Numbers and Canonical Duality: Survey and Synthesis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(4), pages 566-93, September.
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  3. Diewert, W. E., 1976. "Exact and superlative index numbers," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 115-145, May.
  4. Summers, Robert & Heston, Alan, 1991. "The Penn World Table (Mark 5): An Expanded Set of International Comparisons, 1950-1988," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(2), pages 327-68, May.
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  8. Diewert, W. E. & Wales, T. J., 1988. "A normalized quadratic semiflexible functional form," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 327-342, March.
  9. Dowrick, Steve & Quiggin, John, 1997. "True Measures of GDP and Convergence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(1), pages 41-64, March.
  10. Caves, Douglas W & Christensen, Laurits R & Diewert, W Erwin, 1982. "Multilateral Comparisons of Output, Input, and Productivity Using Superlative Index Numbers," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 92(365), pages 73-86, March.
  11. Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1997. "I just ran four million regressions," Economics Working Papers 201, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  12. Hill, Robert J, 1997. "A Taxonomy of Multilateral Methods for Making International Comparisons of Prices and Quantities," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 43(1), pages 49-69, March.
  13. Neary, J-P & Gleeson, B, 1997. "Comparing the Wealth of Nations : Reference Prices and Multilateral Real Income Indexes," Papers 97/19, College Dublin, Department of Political Economy-.
  14. Dowrick, Steve & Dunlop, Yvonne & Quiggin, John, 2003. "Social indicators and comparisons of living standards," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 501-529, April.
  15. James Banks & Richard Blundell & Arthur Lewbel, 1997. "Quadratic Engel Curves And Consumer Demand," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 79(4), pages 527-539, November.
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  17. Deaton, Angus S & Muellbauer, John, 1980. "An Almost Ideal Demand System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(3), pages 312-26, June.
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