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Irving Fisher and Index Number Theory


  • Diewert, Erwin


There are four main approaches to bilateral index number theory: the fixed basket, stochastic, test and economic approaches. The paper reviews the contributions of Irving Fisher to these approaches to index number theory which are still in use today. The paper also reviews Fisher’s contributions to multilateral index number theory. The main themes of the paper are developed in the context of a review of the early history of index number theory: a history that conveys a wealth of information and insight into the making and use of index numbers today.

Suggested Citation

  • Diewert, Erwin, 2012. "Irving Fisher and Index Number Theory," Economics working papers erwin_diewert-2012-9, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 01 Mar 2012.
  • Handle: RePEc:ubc:bricol:erwin_diewert-2012-9

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2009. "Varieties of Crises and Their Dates," Introductory Chapters,in: This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly Princeton University Press.
    2. Reinhart, Karmen & Rogoff, Kenneth, 2009. ""This time is different": panorama of eight centuries of financial crises," Economic Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, vol. 1, pages 77-114, March.
    3. Pezzolo, Luciano & Tattara, Giuseppe, 2008. "“Una fiera senza luogo”: Was Bisenzone an International Capital Market in Sixteenth-Century Italy?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 68(04), pages 1098-1122, December.
    4. Drelichman, Mauricio & Voth, Hans-Joachim, 2010. "The Sustainable Debts of Philip II: A Reconstruction of Castile's Fiscal Position, 1566–1596," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 70(04), pages 813-842, December.
    5. James Conklin, 1998. "The Theory of Sovereign Debt and Spain under Philip II," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(3), pages 483-513, June.
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    More about this item


    Price indexes; quantity indexes; bilateral price indexes; multilateral price indexes; the Fisher ideal index; the test approach to index number theory;

    JEL classification:

    • B16 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Quantitative and Mathematical
    • B31 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought: Individuals - - - Individuals
    • C43 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Index Numbers and Aggregation
    • C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data; Data Access
    • 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

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