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Digitalization and Inflation: A Review of the Literature


  • Karyne B. Charbonneau
  • Alexa Evans
  • Subrata Sarker
  • Lena Suchanek


In the past few years, many have postulated that the possible disinflationary effects of digitalization could explain the subdued inflation in advanced economies. In this note, we review the evidence found in the literature. We look at three main channels. First, we find that changes in the prices of information and communication technology-related goods and services included in the CPI have had a negligible effect on inflation in Canada. Second, we find that, due to the small share of e-commerce in Canada and the remarkably similar behaviour of online and offline prices, the “Amazon effect” has only had a small disinflationary impact to date. As e-commerce grows, however, downward pressure on inflation may amplify in the future through increased competition, but digitalization may also increase market concentration. Finally, although cost-efficient technologies should lead to increased productivity, which would put downward pressure on inflation, this effect has yet to appear in the statistics. Overall, we find it unlikely that digitalization has so far had a significant effect on inflation in Canada.

Suggested Citation

  • Karyne B. Charbonneau & Alexa Evans & Subrata Sarker & Lena Suchanek, 2017. "Digitalization and Inflation: A Review of the Literature," Staff Analytical Notes 17-20, Bank of Canada.
  • Handle: RePEc:bca:bocsan:17-20

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Autor, David & Dorn, David & Katz, Lawrence F. & Patterson, Christina & Van Reenen, John, 2017. "The fall of the Labor share and the rise of superstar firms," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 83616, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    2. Alberto Cavallo, 2017. "Are Online and Offline Prices Similar? Evidence from Large Multi-channel Retailers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(1), pages 283-303, January.
    3. Wei Dong & James Fudurich & Lena Suchanek, 2017. "Digital Transformation in the Service Sector: Insights from Consultations with Firms in Wholesale, Retail and Logistics," Staff Analytical Notes 17-19, Bank of Canada.
    4. Nadim Ahmad & Jennifer Ribarsky & Marshall Reinsdorf, 2017. "Can potential mismeasurement of the digital economy explain the post-crisis slowdown in GDP and productivity growth?," OECD Statistics Working Papers 2017/9, OECD Publishing.
    5. Dany Brouillette & Laurence Savoie-Chabot, 2017. "Global Factors and Inflation in Canada," Staff Analytical Notes 17-17, Bank of Canada.
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    Cited by:

    1. Richard Beard & Anne-Katherine Cormier & Michael Francis & Katerina Gribbin & Justin-Damien Guénette & Christopher Hajzler & Kristina Hess & James Ketcheson & Kun Mo & Louis Poirier & Peter Selcuk, 2018. "Assessing Global Potential Output Growth: April 2018," Staff Analytical Notes 2018-9, Bank of Canada.
    2. Fares Bounajm & Jean-Philippe Cayen & Michael Francis & Christopher Hajzler & Kristina Hess & Guillaume Poulin-Bellisle & Peter Selcuk, 2019. "Assessing Global Potential Output Growth: April 2019," Staff Analytical Notes 2019-13, Bank of Canada.
    3. Fares Bounajm & Jean-Philippe Cayen & Michael Francis & Christopher Hajzler & Kristina Hess & Guillaume Poulin-Bellisle & Peter Selcuk, 2019. "Évaluation de la croissance de la production potentielle mondiale : avril 2019," Staff Analytical Notes 2019-13fr, Bank of Canada.
    4. Anne-Katherine Cormier & Michael Francis & Kristina Hess & Guillaume Poulin-Bellisle, 2019. "Drivers of Weak Wage Growth in Advanced Economies," Staff Analytical Notes 2019-3, Bank of Canada.

    More about this item


    Inflation and prices; Market structure and pricing; Productivity;

    JEL classification:

    • D22 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Empirical Analysis
    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • L81 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Retail and Wholesale Trade; e-Commerce
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes


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