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Statistics Under The Spotlight: Improving The Consumer Price Index


  • William A. Barnett

    (Washington University)

  • Katharine G. Abraham

    (Commissioner, Bureau of Labor Statistics)

  • Robert J. Gordon

    (Northwestern University)

  • Jack E. Triplett

    (Bureau of Economic Analysis, Dept. of Commerce)

  • David W. Wilcox

    (Federal Reserve Board)

  • Kirk M. Wolter

    (NORC and U. of Chicago)


The position taken by William Barnett in this panel discussion is that federal government agencies, including the Bureau of Labor Statistics, view researchers as being among those who comprise the audience for produced data, but not necessarily the most important members of that audience. Recently political pressures from Congress have been at center stage. Barnett takes the position that more focus on the data needs of economic researchers and econometricians would result in substantial gains in data quality and sample size available to economists. As an example to illustrate his point, he displays the results possible by linking Commerce Department data with the early NBER data of Simon Kuznets to produce a data base covering a much longer period of time than is included in the official Commerce Department data alone. The panel discussion that follows Barnett's taped comments emphasizes the concerns of the Commission that recently announced its recommendations regarding revision of the CPI.

Suggested Citation

  • William A. Barnett & Katharine G. Abraham & Robert J. Gordon & Jack E. Triplett & David W. Wilcox & Kirk M. Wolter, 1996. "Statistics Under The Spotlight: Improving The Consumer Price Index," Data 9612001, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpda:9612001
    Note: Type of Document - Microsoft Word; prepared on Macintosh; to print on PostScript; pages: 10 ; figures: included (10). This document includes the transcript of a tape recorded statement by William A. Barnett and the following panel discussion on the subject of the Consumer Price Index. The tape recording was from an invited session at the annual meetings of the American Statistical Association in Chicago in 1996. This full transcript will appear in the American Statistical Association 1996 Proceedings of the Section on Government Statistics. See on the web.

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Fisher, Franklin M. & Shell, Karl, 1972. "The Economic Theory of Price Indices," Elsevier Monographs, Elsevier, edition 1, number 9780122577505 edited by Shell, Karl.
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    More about this item


    Fisher Ideal Index; Historical Price Indexes; Historical Quantity Indexes; Splicing;

    JEL classification:

    • J0 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General
    • E4 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates
    • N1 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations


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