Constructing a PCE-Weighted Consumer Price Index

Caitlin Blair

This chapter is a preliminary draft unless otherwise noted. It may not have been subjected to the formal review process of the NBER. This page will be updated as the chapter is revised.

Chapter in forthcoming NBER book Improving the Measurement of Consumer Expenditures, Christopher Carroll, Thomas Crossley, and John Sabelhaus, editors
Conference held December 2-3, 2011
Forthcoming from University of Chicago Press
in NBER Book Series Studies in Income and Wealth

This study investigates the effects of simulating the Consumer Price Index (CPI) with alternately sourced weights on the inflation experience for an average US consumer. The Bureau of Labor Statistics currently uses household spending data from the Consumer Expenditure (CE) Survey to construct expenditure category weights, or “item” weights, in the CPI. The Bureau of Economic Analysis also estimates consumer expenditures, but does so at a national level for publication of Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) in the National Income and Product Accounts. In this chapter, 2005-2010 price indexes that utilize PCE weights instead of CE expenditure weights are compared with the CPI-Urban in order to evaluate current CPI weighting methods. These comparisons show that the annualized growth rate over five years of an adjusted PCE-weighted CPI is slightly lower than that of the CPI-U, while a reweighted index that uses PCE expenditure definitions grows much more quickly than the CPI.

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This paper was revised on July 16, 2014

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This chapter first appeared as NBER working paper w19582, Constructing a PCE-Weighted Consumer Price Index, Caitlin Blair
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