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Reconsideration ofWeighting and Updating Procedures in the US CPI

  • John S. Greenlees

    ()

    (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Bureau of Labor Statistics)

  • Elliot williams

    ()

    (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Registered author(s):

    In 2002, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) introduced a supplemental C-CPI-U employing a superlative formula to provide a closer approximation to a cost-of-living index (COLI). This paper focuses on whether the BLS can improve upon the headline CPI-U’s current biennial weight update process, thereby reducing the CPI-U’s growth rate and bringing the index closer to the C-CPI-U. We begin by estimating superlative price indexes for 1999 through 2007 along with indexes based on the constant-elasticity-of-substitution demand model. Our analyses confirm that the consumer expenditure data underlying the CPI imply substantial consumer substitution, implying that the CPI-U’s Lowe index formula yields higher inflation estimates than would a true COLI. Simulating feasible weight update processes, we find that a Lowe index with two-year weight reference periods but annual updating rises by about 0.03 percentage points less per year than the CPI-U. Another 0.01 percentage point on average is subtracted by imposing annual revision with one-year base periods. Thus, indexes with more timely weights may offer improved representation of current price change, as well as closer approximations to a COLI.

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    Article provided by Justus-Liebig University Giessen, Department of Statistics and Economics in its journal Journal of Economics and Statistics.

    Volume (Year): 230 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 6 (December)
    Pages: 741-758

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    Handle: RePEc:jns:jbstat:v:230:y:2010:i:6:p:741-758
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    1. Christian Broda & David E. Weinstein, 2010. "Product Creation and Destruction: Evidence and Price Implications," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(3), pages 691-723, June.
    2. Elliot D. Williams, 2006. "The Effects of Rounding on the Consumer Price Index," Working Papers 397, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
    3. Robert C. Feenstra & Marshall B. Reinsdorf, 2004. "Should Exact Index Numbers Have Standard Errors? Theory and Application to Asian Growth," NBER Working Papers 10197, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Feenstra, Robert C, 1994. "New Product Varieties and the Measurement of International Prices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(1), pages 157-77, March.
    5. Sato, Kazuo, 1976. "The Ideal Log-Change Index Number," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 58(2), pages 223-28, May.
    6. Diewert, W. E., 1976. "Exact and superlative index numbers," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 115-145, May.
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