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Measurement errors in Japanese Consumer Price Index

  • Shigenori Shiratsuka

In Japan, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is widely used as a measure of inflation or the cost of living. The CPI is constructed by using a fixed-weight Laspeyres formula. This formula is used mainly because of its ease of calculation and comprehension, thus limiting the total cost of constructing the statistics. However, such simplicity makes it difficult for the CPI to reflect dynamic changes in economic activity such as changes in consumers' behavior between goods in response to relative price fluctuation, the introduction of new goods, and the disappearance of old goods. As a result, measurement errors are introduced into the CPI. In this paper, I summarize the problems pertaining to measurement errors inherent in the Japanese CPI, and provide some quantitative assessment. Based on currently available information, I place the point estimate for overall bias in the CPI at about 0.90 percentage point per year. Although this is the best estimate taking into account all information currently available, it is true that the estimate was based on various, rather bold assumptions. In addition, it should be noted that accuracy of the estimate is not necessarily high due to the lack of existing studies in this field in Japan.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in its series Working Paper Series with number WP-99-2.

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Date of creation: 1999
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:wp-99-2
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  1. Michael J. Boskin, 1998. "Consumer Prices, the Consumer Price Index, and the Cost of Living," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(1), pages 3-26, Winter.
  2. Diewert, W. E., 1976. "Exact and superlative index numbers," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 115-145, May.
  3. Alan Greenspan, 1995. "Opening remarks," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 1-4.
  4. Robert J. Gordon, 1990. "The Measurement of Durable Goods Prices," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gord90-1, August.
  5. Pollak, Robert A., 1989. "The Theory of the Cost-of-Living Index," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195058703, March.
  6. Takatoshi Ito & Keiko Nosse Hirono, 1993. "Efficiency of the Tokyo Housing Market," NBER Working Papers 4382, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Brent R. Moulton, 1996. "Bias in the Consumer Price Index: What Is the Evidence?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 159-177, Fall.
  8. Gordon, Robert J., 1990. "The Measurement of Durable Goods Prices," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226304557.
  9. Angus Deaton, 1998. "Getting Prices Right: What Should Be Done?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(1), pages 37-46, Winter.
  10. Katharine G. Abraham & John S. Greenlees & Brent R. Moulton, 1998. "Working to Improve the Consumer Price Index," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(1), pages 27-36, Winter.
  11. Zvi Griliches, 1992. "Output Measurement in the Service Sectors," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gril92-1, August.
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