NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Jessie Handbury

The Wharton School
University of Pennsylvania
1463 Steinberg-Dietrich Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Tel: 215/573-7903

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NBER Program Affiliations: ITI
NBER Affiliation: Faculty Research Fellow

NBER Working Papers and Publications

April 2015Is the Focus on Food Deserts Fruitless? Retail Access and Food Purchases Across the Socioeconomic Spectrum
with Ilya Rahkovsky, Molly Schnell: w21126
Using novel data describing the healthfulness of household food purchases and the retail landscapes consumers face, we measure the role of access in explaining why wealthier and more educated households purchase healthier foods. We find that spatial differences in access, though significant, are small relative to spatial differences in the nutritional content of sales. Socioeconomic disparities in nutritional consumption exist even among households with equivalent access, and the healthfulness of household consumption responds minimally to improvements in local retail environments. Our results indicate that access-improving policies alone will eliminate less than one third of existing socioeconomic disparities in nutritional consumption.
October 2013How Much Do Official Price Indexes Tell Us about Inflation?
with Tsutomu Watanabe, David E. Weinstein: w19504
Official price indexes, such as the CPI, are imperfect indicators of inflation calculated using ad hoc price formulae different from the theoretically well-founded inflation indexes favored by economists. This paper provides the first estimate of how accurately the CPI informs us about "true" inflation. We use the largest price and quantity dataset ever employed in economics to build a Törnqvist inflation index for Japan between 1989 and 2010. Our comparison of this true inflation index with the CPI indicates that the CPI bias is not constant but depends on the level of inflation. We show the informativeness of the CPI rises with inflation. When measured inflation is low (less than 2.4% per year) the CPI is a poor predictor of true inflation even over 12-month periods. Outside this range, ...
May 2011Goods Prices and Availability in Cities
with David E. Weinstein: w17067
This paper uses detailed barcode data on purchase transactions by households in 49 U.S. cities to overcome a large number of problems that have plagued spatial price index measurement. We identify two important sources of bias. Heterogeneity bias arises from comparing different goods in different locations, and variety bias arises from not correcting for the fact that some goods are unavailable in some locations. Eliminating heterogeneity bias causes 97 percent of the variance in the price level of food products across cities to disappear relative to a conventional index. Eliminating both biases reverses the common finding that prices tend to be higher in larger cities. Instead, we find that price level for food products falls with city size.

Published: Jessie Handbury & David E. Weinstein, 2015. "Goods Prices and Availability in Cities," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 82(1), pages 258-296. citation courtesy of

 
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