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Policy Implications of the Boskin Commission Report

Author

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  • Martin Neil Baily

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Martin Neil Baily, 2006. "Policy Implications of the Boskin Commission Report," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 12, pages 74-83, Spring.
  • Handle: RePEc:sls:ipmsls:v:12:y:2006:6
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:ucp:bknber:9780226304557 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. 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.
    3. 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. Ariel Pakes, 2003. "A Reconsideration of Hedonic Price Indexes with an Application to PC's," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1578-1596, December.
    5. Robert J. Gordon, 2009. "Apparel Prices 1914-93 and the Hulten/Bruegel Paradox," NBER Chapters,in: Price Index Concepts and Measurement, pages 85-128 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Robert J. Gordon, 1990. "The Measurement of Durable Goods Prices," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gord90-1, January.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    United States; Boskin Commission; Boskin; Measurement; Prices; Consumer Price Index; CPI; Bias; CPI Bias; Consumer Price Index Bias;

    JEL classification:

    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence
    • O51 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - U.S.; Canada
    • C82 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Macroeconomic Data; Data Access
    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology
    • C80 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - General
    • E65 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Studies of Particular Policy Episodes

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