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The Consumer Price Index: A Research Agenda and Three Proposals


  • Robert A. Pollak


This paper argues that dealing with current concerns about the CPI within the framework of economic theory requires developing the theory of the cost-of-living index under more general assumptions than have thus far been standard. It examines three neglected but critical issues that should rank high on the research agenda because of their practical implications for index number construction: Whose cost-of-living index? Why shop? and What is a good? It concludes by discussing the intersection between the technical problems of constructing the CPI and the political problems of indexing taxes and transfers.

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  • Robert A. Pollak, 1998. "The Consumer Price Index: A Research Agenda and Three Proposals," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(1), pages 69-78, Winter.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:12:y:1998:i:1:p:69-78 Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.12.1.69

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Reinsdorf, Marshall, 1994. "The Effect of Price Dispersion on Cost of Living Indexes," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 35(1), pages 137-149, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hyun Son & Nanak Kakwani, 2006. "Measuring the impact of prices on inequality: With applications to Thailand and Korea," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 4(2), pages 181-207, August.
    2. Anthony B. Atkinson, 1998. "EMU, Macroeconomics and Children," Papers iopeps98/39, Innocenti Occasional Papers, Economic Policy Series.
    3. David E. Lebow & Jeremy B. Rudd, 2003. "Measurement Error in the Consumer Price Index: Where Do We Stand?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(1), pages 159-201, March.
    4. José Cuesta & Suzanne Duryea & Fidel Jaramillo & Marcos Robles, 2010. "Distributive impacts of the food price crisis in the Andean region," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(7), pages 846-865.
    5. Carlos Guerrero de Lizardi & Manuel Lara Caballero, 2011. "Variaciones en la medición estatal de la pobreza por ingresos según índices de precios locales: México 2000-2008," Ensayos Revista de Economia, Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon, Facultad de Economia, vol. 0(2), pages 51-78, November.
    6. Hyun H. Son & Nanak Kakwani, 2006. "Measuring the impact of prices on inequality: with applications to Thailand and Korea," Working Papers 11, International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth.
    7. Gaddis,Isis, 2016. "Prices for poverty analysis in Africa," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7652, The World Bank.
    8. Jordi Maluquer de Motes i Bernet, 2007. ""La paradisíaca estabilidad de la anteguerra". Elaboración de un índice de precios de consumo de España, 1830-1936," UHE Working papers 2007_07, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Departament d'Economia i Història Econòmica, Unitat d'Història Econòmica.
    9. Ruiz-Castillo, Javier & Ley, Eduardo & Izquierdo, Mario, 2002. "Distributional aspects of the quality change bias in the CPI: evidence from Spain," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 76(1), pages 137-144, June.
    10. William Nordhaus, 2009. "Measuring Real Income with Leisure and Household Production," NBER Chapters,in: Measuring the Subjective Well-Being of Nations: National Accounts of Time Use and Well-Being, pages 125-144 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Carlos Guerrero de Lizardi, 2010. "Alternative Consumer Price Indexes for Mexico," CID Working Papers 42, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
    12. repec:nax:conyad:v:62:y:2017:i:3:p:972-984 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Marshall Reinsdorf & Jack E. Triplett, 2009. "A Review of Reviews: Ninety Years of Professional Thinking About the Consumer Price Index," NBER Chapters,in: Price Index Concepts and Measurement, pages 17-83 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Shiratsuka, Shigenori, 1999. "Measurement Errors in the Japanese Consumer Price Index," Monetary and Economic Studies, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan, vol. 17(3), pages 69-102, December.
    15. Timothy K.M. Beatty & Erling Røed Larsen & Dag Einar Sommervoll, 2005. "Measuring the Price of Housing Consumption for Owners in the CPI," Discussion Papers 427, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    16. Linz Stefan, 2010. "Regional Consumer Price Differences Within Germany: Information Demand, Data Supply and the Role of the Consumer Price Index," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 230(6), pages 814-831, December.
    17. Alan B. Krueger & Aaron Siskind, 1998. "Assessing the Bias in the Consumer Price Index from Survey Data," NBER Working Papers 6450, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Trevon D. Logan, 2008. "Are Engel Curve Estimates of CPI Bias Biased?," NBER Working Papers 13870, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Meijers, Huub & Hollanders, Hugo, 2003. "Sources of Growth: Measuring the Knowledge Based Economy," Research Memorandum 032, Maastricht University, Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    20. Atuesta, Laura & Paredes, Araya, 2011. "A Spatial Cost of Living Index for Colombia using a Microeconomic Approach and Censored Data," MPRA Paper 30580, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    JEL classification:

    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation


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