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A unified approach to estimating demand and welfare

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  • Redding, Stephen J.
  • Weinstein, David E.

Abstract

The measurement of price changes, economic welfare, and demand parameters is currently based on three disjoint approaches: macroeconomic models derived from time-invariant utility functions, microeconomic estimation based on time-varying utility (demand) systems, and actual price and real output data constructed using formulas that differ from either approach. The inconsistencies are so deep that the same assumptions that form the foundation of demand-system estimation can be used to prove that standard price indexes are incorrect, and the assumptions underlying standard exact and superlative price indexes invalidate demand-system estimation. In other words, we show that extant micro and macro welfare estimates are biased and inconsistent with each other as well as the data. We develop a unified approach to demand and price measurement that exactly rationalizes observed micro data on prices and expenditure shares while permitting exact aggregation and meaningful macro comparisons of welfare over time. We show that all standard price indexes are special cases of our approach for particular values of the elasticity of substitution, constant preferences for each good, and a constant set of goods. In contrast to these standard index numbers, our approach allows us to compute changes in the cost of living that take into account both changes in the preferences for individual goods and the entry and exit of goods over time. Using barcode data for the U.S. consumer goods industry, we show that allowing for the entry and exit of products, changing preferences for individual goods, and a value for the elasticity of substitution estimated from the data yields substantially different conclusions for changes in the cost of living from standard index numbers.

Suggested Citation

  • Redding, Stephen J. & Weinstein, David E., 2016. "A unified approach to estimating demand and welfare," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 67681, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:67681
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    Cited by:

    1. Charles Hulten & Leonard Nakamura, 2017. "Accounting for Growth in the Age of the Internet: The Importance of Output-Saving Technical Change," NBER Working Papers 23315, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Philippe Aghion & Antonin Bergeaud & Timo Boppart & Peter J. Klenow & Huiyu Li, 2017. "Missing Growth from Creative Destruction," CEP Discussion Papers dp1514, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    3. Andrei Matveenko, 2017. "Logit, CES, and Rational Inattention," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp593, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.
    4. Etilé, F.; & Lecocq, S.; & Boizot-Szantaï, C.;, 2018. "The Incidence of Soft-Drink Taxes on Consumer Prices and Welfare:Evidence from the French “Soda Taxâ€," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 18/13, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    5. Oulton, Nicholas, 2018. "GDP and the system of national accounts: past, present and future," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 87178, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    6. Thibault Fally & Benjamin Faber, 2016. "Firm Heterogeneity in Consumption Baskets: Evidence from Home and Store Scanner Data," 2016 Meeting Papers 381, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    7. Fabrice Etilé & Sebastien Lecocq & Christine Boizot-Szantai, 2018. "The Incidence of Soft-Drink Taxes on Consumer Prices and Welfare: Evidence from the French " Soda Tax"," PSE Working Papers halshs-01808198, HAL.
    8. Stephen J. Redding & David E. Weinstein, 2018. "Aggregating From Micro to Macro Patterns of Trade," Working Papers 18-10, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    9. Stephen J. Redding & David E. Weinstein, 2017. "Aggregating from Micro to Macro Patterns of Trade," NBER Working Papers 24051, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. repec:aea:jecper:v:31:y:2017:i:2:p:187-210 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Kozo Ueda & Kota Watanabe & Tsutomu Watanabe, 2016. "Product Turnover and Deflation: Evidence from Japan," UTokyo Price Project Working Paper Series 073, University of Tokyo, Graduate School of Economics.
    12. Kristian Behrens & Yoshitsugu Kanemoto & Yasusada Murata, 2016. "On measuring welfare changes when varieties are endogenous," GRIPS Discussion Papers 16-26, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies.
    13. repec:aea:jecper:v:31:y:2017:i:2:p:145-64 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. A. Bergeaud & S.Ray, 2017. "Adjustment Costs and Factor Demand: New Evidence From Firms’ Real Estate," Working papers 641, Banque de France.
    15. Martin S. Feldstein, 2017. "Underestimating the Real Growth of GDP, Personal Income and Productivity," NBER Working Papers 23306, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Colin Hottman & Ryan Monarch, 2018. "Estimating Unequal Gains across U.S. Consumers with Supplier Trade Data," International Finance Discussion Papers 1220, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    17. Ahmad Lashkaripour & Volodymyr Lugovskyy, 2017. "National Differentiation and Industry-Wide Scale Effects," Caepr Working Papers 2017-004 Classification-, Center for Applied Economics and Policy Research, Economics Department, Indiana University Bloomington.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    elasticity of substitution; price index; consumer valuation bias; new goods; welfare;

    JEL classification:

    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • E01 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - Measurement and Data on National Income and Product Accounts and Wealth; Environmental Accounts
    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation

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