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True Multilateral Indexes for International Comparisons of Purchasing Power and Real Income

  • J.P. Neary

I consider the problem of choosing index numbers of purchasing power and real income for international comparisons. I show that the desirable properties of methods based on the Fisher "Ideal" index do not extend to multilateral comparisons, except when tastes are homothetic. By contrast, the Geary method, which underlies the Penn World Tables, provides an approximation to a set of "true" exchange rate indexes which have many desirable properties. In particular, if demands exhibit generalized linearity, the true indexes measure real incomes relative to a hypothetical country whose income is an appropriate average of individual countries' incomes.

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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp0329.

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Date of creation: Feb 1997
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0329
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/series.asp?prog=CEP

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  1. Marris, Robin, 1984. "Comparing the Incomes of Nations: A Critique of the International Comparison Project," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 22(1), pages 40-57, March.
  2. Chew, Soo Hong, 1983. "A Generalization of the Quasilinear Mean with Applications to the Measurement of Income Inequality and Decision Theory Resolving the Allais Paradox," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(4), pages 1065-92, July.
  3. Diewert, W. E., 1976. "Exact and superlative index numbers," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 115-145, May.
  4. Summers, Robert & Heston, Alan, 1991. "The Penn World Table (Mark 5): An Expanded Set of International Comparisons, 1950-1988," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(2), pages 327-68, May.
  5. Samuelson, Paul A, 1994. "Facets of Balassa-Samuelson Thirty Years Later," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 2(3), pages 201-26, October.
  6. Prasada Rao, D S & Selvanathan, E Anthony & Pilat, Dirk, 1995. "Generalized Theil-Tornqvist Indices with Applications to International Comparisons of Prices and Real Output," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 77(2), pages 352-60, May.
  7. Deaton, Angus S & Muellbauer, John, 1980. "An Almost Ideal Demand System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(3), pages 312-26, June.
  8. Kravis, Irving B, 1984. "Comparative Studies of National Incomes and Prices," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 22(1), pages 1-39, March.
  9. Caves, Douglas W & Christensen, Laurits R & Diewert, W Erwin, 1982. "Multilateral Comparisons of Output, Input, and Productivity Using Superlative Index Numbers," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 92(365), pages 73-86, March.
  10. Samuelson, Paul A & Swamy, S, 1974. "Invariant Economic Index Numbers and Canonical Duality: Survey and Synthesis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(4), pages 566-93, September.
  11. Samuelson, Paul A, 1984. "Second Thoughts on Analytical Income Comparisons," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 94(374), pages 267-78, June.
  12. Drechsler, Laszlo, 1973. "Weighting of Index Numbers in Multilateral International Comparisons," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 19(1), pages 17-34, March.
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