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Prescriptivism to positivism? The development of the CPI in New Zealand


  • Sharleen Forbes
  • Corin Higgs
  • James Keating
  • Evan Roberts


Retail price collection in New Zealand has a long history. Early indices were prescriptive, with price changes measured in items proscribed as staples. The development of a price index to meet the conflicting demands of government, domestic labour and international organisations was an imperfect process and these conflicts gradually changed its nature and purpose. This paper documents the history of retail prices in New Zealand, from the compilation of basic commodity prices in the 1840s through to the beginnings of the Consumers’ Price Index as we now know it, an objective, positivist index based on actual household consumption (expenditure) patterns.

Suggested Citation

  • Sharleen Forbes & Corin Higgs & James Keating & Evan Roberts, 2012. "Prescriptivism to positivism? The development of the CPI in New Zealand," New Zealand Economic Papers, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(1), pages 57-77, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:nzecpp:v:46:y:2012:i:1:p:57-77
    DOI: 10.1080/00779954.2011.645222

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