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Policy Implications of the Boskin Commission Report

  • Martin Neil Baily
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    The author supports the type of the back-of-the-envelope calculations of CPI bias that the Commission used so effectively to attract public attention to its report. In the area of quality adjustment, however, he criticizes the Boskin Commission for what he calls “premature extrapolation,” that is moving too quickly from a limited number of examples to a broad conclusion. He stresses the importance of high-quality data for policy decisions and observes that a better allocation of existing resources can improve economic statistics, suggesting that the creation of a unified statistical agency in the United States, like Statistics Canada, would streamline data collection and analysis. In terms of the issue of Social Security solvency, the author argues that use of the CPI to adjust social security benefits downward is not a preferred option. He concludes that the Commission should have advised Congress that it did not have an adequate scientific basis to recommend a specific quantitative adjustment to the CPI index used to adjust federal programs.

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    Article provided by Centre for the Study of Living Standards in its journal International Productivity Monitor.

    Volume (Year): 12 (2006)
    Issue (Month): (Spring)
    Pages: 74-83

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    Handle: RePEc:sls:ipmsls:v:12:y:2006:6
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    References listed on IDEAS
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    1. Ariel Pakes, 2002. "A Reconsideration of Hedonic Price Indices with an Application to PC's," NBER Working Papers 8715, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Jerry Hausman & Ephraim Leibtag, 2007. "Consumer benefits from increased competition in shopping outlets: Measuring the effect of Wal-Mart," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(7), pages 1157-1177.
    3. Martin Feldstein & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2001. "Social Security," NBER Working Papers 8451, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
      • Feldstein, Martin & Liebman, Jeffrey B., 2002. "Social security," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 32, pages 2245-2324 Elsevier.
    4. Michael J. Boskin, 1998. "Consumer Prices, the Consumer Price Index, and the Cost of Living," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(1), pages 3-26, Winter.
    5. Robert J. Gordon, 1990. "The Measurement of Durable Goods Prices," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gord90-1.
    6. repec:ucp:bknber:9780226304557 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Martin Neil Baily & Eric Zitzewitz, 2001. "Service Sector Productivity Comparisons: Lessons for Measurement," NBER Chapters, in: New Developments in Productivity Analysis, pages 419-464 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Robert J. Gordon, 2005. "Apparel Prices 1914-93 and the Hulten/Brueghel Paradox," NBER Working Papers 11548, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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