Mismeasurement in the Consumer Price Index: An Evaluation
A number of analysts have claimed recently that the consumer price index overstates the annual increase in the cost of living. This paper develops a framework for studying measurement problems in the consumer price index and systematically analyzes the available evidence concerning the magnitude of these problems. It concludes that the CPI overstates increases in the cost of living. The evidence suggests that the bias is centered on 1.0 percentage point per year. The extent of this bias is not known exactly. To take into account this uncertainty, the estimated bias is presented in terms of a probability distribution rather than a point estimate or range. We estimate that there is a 10 percent chance that the bias is less than 0.6 percentage point and a 10 percent chance that it is greater than 1.5 percentage points per year. CPI procedures overstate the rate of inflation for medical procedures that are subject to technological improvement. To illustrate this point and to show how better to measure medical care prices, the paper presents a prototypical price index for cataract surgery. This price index grows much more slowly than a price index for cataract surgery constructed using the methodology of the CPI. The paper discusses implications of CPI mismeasurement for monetary and fiscal policy as well as for other official statistics. It also offers some suggestions for improving the CPI.
|Date of creation:||May 1996|
|Publication status:||published as Mismeasurement in the Consumer Price Index: An Evaluation , Matthew D. Shapiro, David W. Wilcox. in NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1996, Volume 11 , Bernanke and Rotemberg. 1996|
|Note:||EFG ME PR|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
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.:
- Michael Spence, 1976. "Product Selection, Fixed Costs, and Monopolistic Competition," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 43(2), pages 217-235.
- Franklin M. Fisher & Zvi Griliches, 1995. "Aggregate Price Indices, New Goods, and Generics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(1), pages 229-244.
- repec:ucp:bknber:9780226304557 is not listed on IDEAS
- Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1977.
"Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 67(3), pages 297-308, June.
- Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1975. "Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 64, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
- Griliches, Zvi & Cockburn, Iain, 1994. "Generics and New Goods in Pharmaceutical Price Indexes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1213-1232, December.
- Griliches, Z. & Cockborn, I., 1993. "Generics and New Goods in Pharmaceutical Price Indexes," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1664, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
- Zvi Griliches & Iain Cockburn, 1993. "Generics and New Goods in Pharmaceutical Price Indexes," NBER Working Papers 4272, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Gillingham, Robert & Greenlees, John S, 1987. "The Impact of Direct Taxes on the Cost of Living," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(4), pages 775-796, August.
- Pakes, Ariel & Berry, Steven & Levinsohn, James A, 1993. "Applications and Limitations of Some Recent Advances in Empirical Industrial Organization: Price Indexes and the Analysis of Environmental Change," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 241-246, May.
- Randolph, William C, 1988. "Housing Depreciation and Aging Bias in the Consumer Price Index," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 6(3), pages 359-371, July.
- Robert J. Gordon, 1990. "The Measurement of Durable Goods Prices," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gord90-1, April.
- Diewert, W. E., 1976. "Exact and superlative index numbers," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 115-145, May.
- F. M. Scherer, 1993. "Pricing, Profits, and Technological Progress in the Pharmaceutical Industry," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 97-115, Summer.
- Pollak, Robert A., 1989. "The Theory of the Cost-of-Living Index," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195058703. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5590. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.