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CPI Bias and Real Living Standards in Russia During the Transition

The economies of the former Soviet Bloc experienced large declines in output during the decade of transition which began with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Yet there are many reasons to believe that measured output and official deflators provide a poor proxy for the change in real living standards in transition economies. This paper uses the Engel curve methodology recently developed by Hamilton (2001) and Costa (2001) to examine changes in real living standards in Russia during the transition period and to provide an estimate of how much the officialRussian CPI has overstated consumer inflation. We also examine changes in consumer durables, home production, and subjective well-being to further evaluate changes in living standards. Our findings indicate that CPI bias has caused a substantial understatement of the growth performance of the Russian economy during the transition. Even just allowing household final consumption to be deflated with bias, we find that the level of real per capita GDP in 2001 may be understated by up to thirty percent compared with using a bias-corrected deflator. Our analysis of consumer durables, home production, and subjective well-being supports the conclusion that the decline in living standards has been substantially less than what is inferred by looking at official statistics on real output.

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File URL: ftp://mngt.waikato.ac.nz/RePEc/wai/econwp/0402.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Waikato, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers in Economics with number 04/02.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: 24 Sep 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wai:econwp:04/02
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  1. Seale, James L., Jr. & Regmi, Anita & Bernstein, Jason, 2003. "International Evidence On Food Consumption Patterns," Technical Bulletins 33580, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  2. Duncan Thomas & Elizabeth Frankenberg & James P. Smith, 2000. "Lost But Not Forgotten: Attrition and Follow-up in the Indonesian Family Life Survey," Working Papers 00-03, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
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  4. McKenzie, David J, 2006. "The Consumer Response to the Mexican Peso Crisis," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55(1), pages 139-72, October.
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  8. Dora L. Costa, 2001. "Estimating Real Income in the United States from 1888 to 1994: Correcting CPI Bias Using Engel Curves," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(6), pages 1288-1310, December.
  9. Elisabetta Falcetti & Martin Raiser & Peter Sanfey, 2000. "Defying the odds: initial conditions, reforms and growth in the first decade of transition," Working Papers 55, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Office of the Chief Economist.
  10. Timothy Beatty & Erling Røed Larsen, 2005. "Using Engel curves to estimate bias in the Canadian CPI as a cost of living index," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 38(2), pages 482-499, May.
  11. Gluschenko, Konstantin, 2006. "Biases in cross-space comparisons through cross-time price indexes: The case of Russia," BOFIT Discussion Papers 9/2006, Bank of Finland, Institute for Economies in Transition.
  12. Brada, Josef C. & King, Arthur E. & Kutan, Ali M., 2000. "Inflation bias and productivity shocks in transition economies: The case of the Czech Republic," ZEI Working Papers B 02-2000, ZEI - Center for European Integration Studies, University of Bonn.
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  16. Simon Johnson & Daniel Kaufman & Andrei Shleifer, 1997. "The Unofficial Economy in Transition," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 28(2), pages 159-240.
  17. Kolodko, Grzegorz W., 2000. "From Shock to Therapy: The Political Economy of Postsocialist Transformation," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198297437, March.
  18. Jan Hanousek & Randall K. Filer, 2001. "Survey-based Estimates of Biases in Consumer Price Indices During Transition: Evidence from Romania," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp178, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.
  19. Angus Deaton & Christina Paxson, 1998. "Economies of Scale, Household Size, and the Demand for Food," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(5), pages 897-930, October.
  20. Jan Hanousek & Randall K. Filer, 2000. "Output Changes and Inflationary Bias in Transition," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp167, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.
  21. Bruce W. Hamilton, 2001. "Using Engel's Law to Estimate CPI Bias," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 619-630, June.
  22. Boskin, Michael J & Jorgenson, Dale W, 1997. "Implications of Overstating Inflation for Indexing Government Programs and Understanding Economic Progress," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 89-93, May.
  23. Paul R. Gregory & Valery Lazarev, 2004. "Structural Change in Russian Transition," Working Papers 896, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  24. William D. Nordhaus, 1998. "Quality Change in Price Indexes," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(1), pages 59-68, Winter.
  25. Deaton, Angus S & Muellbauer, John, 1980. "An Almost Ideal Demand System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(3), pages 312-26, June.
  26. Stillman, Steven & Thomas, Duncan, 2004. "The Effect of Economic Crises on Nutritional Status: Evidence from Russia," IZA Discussion Papers 1092, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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