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The Boskin Commission Report and its Aftermath

  • Robert J. Gordon

This paper briefly summarizes the analysis and findings of the 1996 Boskin Commission Report, Toward a More Accurate Measure of the Cost of Living. It then reviews the comments and criticisms that appeared soon after the Report was issued and provides responses to the more important criticisms. Changes in the CPI, both those that were planned before the Report and those that were in part a response to its recommendations, are summarized and assessed. The paper concludes with a summary of recent research on quality change and comments on the current status of the CPI and of price measurement research. Including those improvements that the BLS has announced for implementation in 2000-2002, the paper estimates that the current upward bias in the CPI is in the range of 0.65 percent, down from the 1.1 percent that the Report estimated applied to the period 1995-96.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7759.

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Date of creation: Jun 2000
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Publication status: published as Gordon, Robert-J, 1999. "The Boskin Commission Report and Its Aftermath," Monetary and Economic Studies, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan, vol. 17(3), pages 41-68, December.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7759
Note: PR EFG
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  1. 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.
  2. Irving Shapiro & Matthew D. Shapiro & David W. Wilcox, 1999. "Quality Improvement in Health Care: A Framework for Price and Output Measurement," NBER Working Papers 6971, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Gordon, Robert J., 1990. "The Measurement of Durable Goods Prices," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226304557.
  4. 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.
  5. David M. Cutler & Mark McClellan & Joseph P. Newhouse & Dahlia Remler, 1999. "Pricing Heart Attack Treatments," NBER Working Papers 7089, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    • David M. Cutler & Mark B. McClellan & Joseph P. Newhouse & Dahlia K. Remler, 2001. "Pricing Heart Attack Treatments," NBER Chapters, in: Medical Care Output and Productivity, pages 305-362 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. W. Erwin Diewert, 1995. "Axiomatic and Economic Approaches to Elementary Price Indexes," NBER Working Papers 5104, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Matthew D. Shapiro & David W. Wilcox, 1997. "Alternative strategies for aggregating prices in the CPI," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 113-125.
  8. David Cutler & Mark McClellan & Joseph Newhouse, 1998. "The Costs and Benefits of Intensive Treatment for Cardiovascular Disease," NBER Working Papers 6514, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Lawrence Slifman & Carol Corrado, 1999. "Decomposition of Productivity and Unit Costs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 328-332, May.
  10. Matthew D. Shapiro & David W. Wilcox, 1996. "Mismeasurement in the Consumer Price Index: An Evaluation," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1996, Volume 11, pages 93-154 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Brent R. Moulton & Karin E. Moses, 1997. "Addressing the Quality Change Issue in the Consumer Price Index," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 28(1), pages 305-366.
  12. David M. Cutler & Mark McClellan & Joseph P. Newhouse & Dahlia Remler, 1996. "Are Medical Prices Declining?," NBER Working Papers 5750, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Braithwait, Steven D, 1980. "The Substitution Bias of the Laspeyres Price Index: An Analysis Using Estimated Cost-of-Living Indexes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(1), pages 64-77, March.
  14. David M. Cutler & Mark McClellan, 1996. "The Determinants of Technological Change in Heart Attack Treatment," NBER Working Papers 5751, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Timothy F. Bresnahan & Robert J. Gordon, 1996. "The Economics of New Goods," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bres96-1, June.
  16. 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.
  17. Diewert, W. E., 1976. "Exact and superlative index numbers," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 115-145, May.
  18. William D. Nordhaus, 1998. "Quality Change in Price Indexes," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(1), pages 59-68, Winter.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. Pollak, Robert A., 1981. "The social cost of living index," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(3), pages 311-336, June.
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