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Chain linking over December and methodological changes in the HICP: view from a central bank perspective


  • Dietrich, Andreas
  • Eiglsperger, Martin
  • Mehrhoff, Jens
  • Wieland, Elisabeth


Consumer price inflation, as measured by the year-on-year increase in the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP), is used by the European Central Bank (ECB) for assessing its monetary policy. The European Statistical System regularly introduces methodological improvements into this chain-linked price index in the linking month (December). If the outcome of such changes is a new series with a very different profile in December – either due to changed seasonality or one-off (sampling) effects – significant statistical distortions may arise when the new index series is chain-linked to the existing series. This paper explains the mechanism behind statistical distortions due to chain linking and provides some recent examples from European price statistics. Several alternative chain-linking practices, as well as recommendations for data users on how to deal with such statistical breaks in the HICP, are presented. JEL Classification: C43, E31

Suggested Citation

  • Dietrich, Andreas & Eiglsperger, Martin & Mehrhoff, Jens & Wieland, Elisabeth, 2021. "Chain linking over December and methodological changes in the HICP: view from a central bank perspective," Statistics Paper Series 40, European Central Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbsps:202140

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    Cited by:

    1. Herzberg, Julika & Knetsch, Thomas A. & Schwind, Patrick & Weinand, Sebastian, 2021. "Quantifying bias and inaccuracy of upper-level aggregation in HICPs for Germany and the euro area," Discussion Papers 06/2021, Deutsche Bundesbank.
    2. Beck, Günter W. & Carstensen, Kai & Menz, Jan-Oliver & Schnorrenberger, Richard & Wieland, Elisabeth, 2023. "Nowcasting consumer price inflation using high-frequency scanner data: Evidence from Germany," Discussion Papers 34/2023, Deutsche Bundesbank.
    3. Csaba BÁLINT, 2022. "Sectorial Price Shock Propagation via Input-Output Linkages," Journal for Economic Forecasting, Institute for Economic Forecasting, vol. 0(4), pages 21-40, December.

    More about this item


    central bank communication; chain linking; Consumer prices; index aggregation methods; seasonality;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C43 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Index Numbers and Aggregation
    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation

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