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Consumers' Opinion of Inflation Bias Due to Quality Improvements

  • Jan Hanousek

    ()

  • Randall K. Filer

    ()

Measurement of quality changes has proven to be an especially difficult aspect of calculating unbiased rates of inflation. We propose a new methodology of capturing quality improvements based on consumer focus groups and apply this methodology in an environment where quality changes might be expected to be especially rapid and extensive, a post-communist transition economy. We find that the methodology indicates a substantial understatement of quality improvements during transition, and, therefore, a substantial overstatement of inflation resulting in a serious downward bias in growth rate estimates for post-communist economies. The move to free markets has apparently improved consumers= welfare more by improving what they can purchase than by increasing how much they can purchase. Overall, mismeasurement of quality changes may have understated Czech growth rates during the first decade after communism by as much as 5 percentage points per year.

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Paper provided by William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan in its series William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series with number 2004-681.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: 01 May 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wdi:papers:2004-681
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  1. Robert C. Feenstra, 1995. "Exact Hedonic Price Indexes," NBER Working Papers 5061, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Kolstad, Charles D. & Guzman, Rolando M., 1999. "Information and the Divergence between Willingness to Accept and Willingness to Pay," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 66-80, July.
  3. Kontogianni, Areti & Skourtos, Mihalis S. & Langford, Ian H. & Bateman, Ian J. & Georgiou, Stavros, 2001. "Integrating stakeholder analysis in non-market valuation of environmental assets," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 123-138, April.
  4. Wiktor L. Adamowicz & Vinay Bhardwaj & Bruce Macnab, 1993. "Experiments on the Difference between Willingness to Pay and Willingness to Accept," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 69(4), pages 416-427.
  5. 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 - Economic Institute, Prague.
  6. Kaplowitz, Michael D. & Hoehn, John P., 2001. "Do focus groups and individual interviews reveal the same information for natural resource valuation?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 237-247, February.
  7. Mark Bils & Peter J. Klenow, 2000. "Quantifying Quality Growth," NBER Working Papers 7695, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Nick Hanley & Gary Koop & Begoña Álvarez-Farizo & Robert E. Wright & Ceara Nevin, 2001. "Go climb a mountain: an application of recreation demand modelling to rock climbing in Scotland," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(1), pages 36-52.
  9. Charles R. Hulten, 1997. "Quality change in the CPI," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 87-100.
  10. Shogren, Jason F. & Shin, Seung Youll & Hayes, Dermot J. & Kliebenstein, James, 1994. "Resolving Differences in Willingness to Pay and Willingness to Accept," Staff General Research Papers 701, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  11. 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.
  12. Paul A. Armknecht & Fenella Maitland-Smith, 1999. "Price Imputation and Other Techniques for Dealing with Missing Observations, Seasonality and Quality Change in Price Indices," IMF Working Papers 99/78, International Monetary Fund.
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