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Accounting for Unrepresentative Products and Urban-Rural Price Differences in International Comparisons of Real Income: An Application to the Asia-Pacific Region


  • Robert J. Hill

    () ( Karl-Franzens University of Graz)

  • Iqbal A. Syed

    () (University of New South Wales)


The International Comparisons Program (ICP) run by the World Bank compares the purchasing power of currencies and real income across countries. Using a unique data set consisting of over 600,000 ICP price quotes drawn from nine countries in the Asia-Pacific region, we consider a number of ways of improving the basic heading price indexes that form the building blocks of ICP. In particular, we show how the results can be adjusted to take account of unrepresentative products, urban-rural price differences and differing outlet-type mixes across countries. We also consider the plausibility of the most striking result that emerged from ICP 2005 – that China came out 40 percent smaller than previously thought. Our results suggest that part of this discrepancy can be attributed to excessive sampling in China of unrepresentative products in urban locations.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert J. Hill & Iqbal A. Syed, 2012. "Accounting for Unrepresentative Products and Urban-Rural Price Differences in International Comparisons of Real Income: An Application to the Asia-Pacific Region," Graz Economics Papers 2012-07, University of Graz, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:grz:wpaper:2012-07

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Angus Deaton, 2005. "Measuring Poverty in a Growing World (or Measuring Growth in a Poor World)," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(1), pages 1-19, February.
    2. Angus Deaton, 2005. "ERRATUM: Measuring Poverty in a Growing World (or Measuring Growth in a Poor World)," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 395-395, May.
    3. Ravallion, Martin & van de Walle, Dominique, 1991. "Urban-rural cost-of-living differentials in a developing economy," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 113-127, January.
    4. Angus Deaton, 2010. "Price Indexes, Inequality, and the Measurement of World Poverty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 5-34, March.
    5. Mick Silver, 2009. "The Hedonic Country Product Dummy Method and Quality Adjustments for Purchasing Power Parity Calculations," IMF Working Papers 09/271, International Monetary Fund.
    6. J. Peter Neary, 2004. "Rationalizing the Penn World Table: True Multilateral Indices for International Comparisons of Real Income," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1411-1428, December.
    7. Shaohua Chen & Martin Ravallion, 2010. "The Developing World is Poorer than We Thought, But No Less Successful in the Fight Against Poverty," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(4), pages 1577-1625.
    8. repec:pri:rpdevs:presidential%20address%2017january%202010%20all.pdf is not listed on IDEAS
    9. World Bank, 2007. "World Development Indicators 2007," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 8150.
    10. Summers, Robert, 1973. "International Price Comparisons Based Upon Incomplete Data," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 19(1), pages 1-16, March.
    11. Angus Deaton & Alan Heston, 2010. "Understanding PPPs and PPP-Based National Accounts," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 1-35, October.
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    13. Ravallion, Martin & Chen, Shaohua, 2007. "China's (uneven) progress against poverty," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 1-42, January.
    14. Gong, Cathy Honge & Meng, Xin, 2008. "Regional Price Differences in Urban China 1986-2001: Estimation and Implication," IZA Discussion Papers 3621, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    15. Abuzar Asra, 1999. "Urban-Rural Differences in Costs of Living and Their Impact on Poverty Measures," Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(3), pages 51-69.
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    More about this item


    International Comparisons Program; Country-Product-Dummy Method; Price Index; Rural-Urban Price Differences; Representative and Unrepresentative Products; Shopping Outlet; China;

    JEL classification:

    • C43 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Index Numbers and Aggregation
    • 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
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence
    • O53 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Asia including Middle East

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