The Social Cost-of-Living: Welfare Foundations and Estimation
We present a new class of social cost-of-living indices and a nonparametric framework for estimating these and other social cost-of- living indices. Common social cost-of-living indices can be understood as aggregator functions of approximations of individual cost-of-living indices. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is the expenditure-weighted average of first-order approximations of each individual’s cost-of-living index. This is troubling for three reasons. First, it has not been shown to have a welfare economic foundation for the case where agents are heterogeneous (as they clearly are.) Second, it uses an expenditure-weighted average which downweights the experience of poor households relative to rich households. Finally, it uses only first-order approximations of each individual’s cost-of-living index, and thus ignores substitution effects. We propose a “common-scaling” social cost-of-living index, which is defined as the single scaling to everyone’s expenditure which holds social welfare constant across a price change. Our approach has an explicit social welfare foundation and allows us to choose the weights on the costs of rich and poor households. We also give a unique solution for the welfare function for the case where the weights are independent of household expenditure. A first order approximation of our social cost-of- living index nests as special cases commonly used indices such as the CPI. We also provide a nonparametric method for estimating second- order approximations (which account for substitution effects).
|Date of creation:||Jun 2006|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario, L8S 4M4|
Phone: (905) 525-9140 ext. 22765
Fax: (905) 521-8232
Web page: http://www.mcmaster.ca/economics/
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Eduardo Ley, 2005.
"Whose inflation? A characterization of the CPI plutocratic gap,"
Oxford Economic Papers,
Oxford University Press, vol. 57(4), pages 634-646, October.
- Eduardo Ley, 2001. "Whose Inflation? A Characterization of the CPI Plutocratic Gap," Public Economics 0110001, EconWPA, revised 20 Oct 2001.
- Arthur Lewbel, 2001. "Demand Systems with and without Errors," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 611-618, June.
- Banks, James & Blundell, Richard & Lewbel, Arthur, 1996. "Tax Reform and Welfare Measurement: Do We Need Demand System Estimation?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(438), pages 1227-1241, September.
- James Banks & Richard Blundell & Arthur Lewbel, 1994. "Tax reform and welfare measurement: do we need demand system estimation?," IFS Working Papers W94/11, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
- Pollak, Robert A., 1981. "The social cost of living index," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(3), pages 311-336, June.
- Pendakur, Krishna, 2002. "Taking prices seriously in the measurement of inequality," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(1), pages 47-69, October.
- Pendakur, K., 1999. "Taking Prices Seriously in the Measurement of Inequality," Discussion Papers dp99-7, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University.
- Haerdle,Wolfgang & Stoker,Thomas, 1987. "Investigations smooth multiple regression by the method of average derivatives," Discussion Paper Serie A 107, University of Bonn, Germany.
- 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.
- Angus Deaton, 1998. "Getting Prices Right: What Should Be Done?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(1), pages 37-46, Winter.
- W. Erwin Diewert, 1998. "Index Number Issues in the Consumer Price Index," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(1), pages 47-58, Winter.
- Vartia, Yrjo O, 1983. "Efficient Methods of Measuring Welfare Change and Compensated Income in Terms of Ordinary Demand Functions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(1), pages 79-98, January. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)