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Estimating Commodity Substitution Bias in the Irish Inflation Rate Statistics during the Financial Crisis


  • Colin Bermingham

    (Formerly of the Central Bank of Ireland, Dublin, Ireland)

  • Dermot Coates

    (Central Bank of Ireland, Dublin, Ireland)

  • Derry O'Brien

    (Formerly of the Central Bank of Ireland, Dublin, Ireland)


Measures such as the Consumer Price Index are important economic indicators setting out price changes in the Irish economy over time. Such measures, however, are subject to various types of measurement bias. The latter can include Commodity Substitution Bias whereby the weights assigned to each item in a representative basket of goods and services cease to fully reflect consumer expenditure patterns over time, and particularly during a period of economic upheaval. This, in turn, can lead to the overstatement (or understatement) of inflation. The Central Statistics Office (CSO) now updates the relevant weights every year, thereby reducing the impact of this bias. In this article, we have endeavoured to estimate the size of the bias in the period leading up to the introduction of the new methodology in 2012. The results presented here indicate that the rate of inflation was slightly understated. The degree of this measurement bias was not significantly higher than that identified in other countries in which this phenomenon has been examined, albeit that in the latter countries an upward bias (or overstatement) was found.

Suggested Citation

  • Colin Bermingham & Dermot Coates & Derry O'Brien, 2016. "Estimating Commodity Substitution Bias in the Irish Inflation Rate Statistics during the Financial Crisis," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 47(3), pages 327-337.
  • Handle: RePEc:eso:journl:v:47:y:2016:i:3:p:327-337

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. James Rossiter, 2005. "Measurement Bias in the Canadian Consumer Price Index," Staff Working Papers 05-39, Bank of Canada.
    2. 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.
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    commodities; inflation; financial crisis;


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