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Measurement bias in the HICP: what do we know, and what do we need to know?


  • Wynne, Mark A.
  • Rodriguez-Palenzuela, Diego


The Harmonized Index Of Consumer Prices (HICP) is the primary measure of inflation in the euro area, and plays a central role in the policy deliberations of the European Central Bank (ECB). Among the rationales given for defining price stability as prevailing at some positive measured inflation rate is the possibility that the HICP as published incorporates measurement errors of one sort or another that may cause it to systematically overstate the true rate of inflation in the euro area. The purpose of this paper is to review what is known about the scope of measurement error in the HICP. We conclude that given the scant research on price measurement issues in the EU and the ongoing improvements in the HICP, there is almost no scientific basis at this time for a point (or even an interval) estimate of a positive bias in the HICP. JEL Classification: C43, E31

Suggested Citation

  • Wynne, Mark A. & Rodriguez-Palenzuela, Diego, 2002. "Measurement bias in the HICP: what do we know, and what do we need to know?," Working Paper Series 0131, European Central Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20020131

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Reis, Hugo J. & Santos Silva, J.M.C., 2006. "Hedonic prices indexes for new passenger cars in Portugal (1997-2001)," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 23(6), pages 890-908, December.
    2. Mark A. Wynne, 2005. "An estimate of the measurement bias in the HICP," Working Papers 0509, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
    3. Karsten Staehr, 2008. "The Maastricht Inflation Criterion and the New EU Members from Central and Eastern Europe," Bank of Estonia Working Papers 2008-04, Bank of Estonia, revised 30 Oct 2008.
    4. Kirsten Lommatzsch & Silke Tober, 2004. "The Inflation Target of the ECB: Does the Balassa-Samuelson Effect Matter?," EUI-RSCAS Working Papers 19, European University Institute (EUI), Robert Schuman Centre of Advanced Studies (RSCAS).
    5. Otmar Issing, 2004. "Geldpolitik für den Euroraum," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 5(4), pages 381-404, November.
    6. Borio, Claudio & Filardo, Andrew J., 2004. "Looking back at the international deflation record," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 15(3), pages 287-311, December.
    7. Michael Bordo & Andrew Filardo, 2005. "Deflation and monetary policy in a historical perspective: remembering the past or being condemned to repeat it?," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 20(44), pages 799-844, October.
    8. Gian Maria Tomat, 2005. "Prices, Product Differentiation And Quality Measurement: A Comparison Between Hedonic And Matched Model Methods," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 547, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    9. Jochen Hartwig, 2005. "On Misusing National Accounts Data for Governance Purposes," KOF Working papers 05-101, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
    10. Henning Ahnert & Geoff Kenny, 2004. "Quality adjustment of European price statistics and the role for hedonics," Occasional Paper Series 15, European Central Bank.
    11. Wynne, Mark A., 2008. "How should central banks define price stability?," Globalization and Monetary Policy Institute Working Paper 08, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
    12. Rossi, Sergio, 2004. "The enlargement of the euro area: what lessons can be learned from EMU?," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(6), pages 947-970, January.
    13. repec:fip:feddgm:00011 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Jakob de Haan & Marco Hoeberichts & Renske Maas & Federica Teppa, 2016. "Inflation in the euro area and why it matters," DNB Occasional Studies 1403, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.

    More about this item


    Harmonized Index of Consumer Prices; HICP; measurement error;

    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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