Quality-Adjusted Prices for the American Automobile Industry: 1906-1940
NBER Working Paper No. 5035
We push the span of hedonic price calculations for automobiles backwards towards the industry's birth. Most of the real change that occurred between 1906 and 1982 occurred between 1906 and 1940. During these years, hedonic prices fell at an average annual rate of 5%. The pace was brisker still during the first 8-12 years. Our measured declines can be decomposed into price and quality components. Our calculations suggest that 60% of the overall decline 1906-1940 was due to process innovation and only 40% to product innovation or quality change per se. Regressors representing mechanical systems matter in these calculations.