Towards a Cost-of-Living Index: Progress and Prospects

Katharine G Abraham, Journal of Economic Perspectives, 17(1):45-58. 17(1), 45-58, March .


In this paper, I consider the improvements the Bureau of Labor Statistics has
made to the Consumer Price Index since the mid-1990s. These include changes
designed to make the index more representative of current expenditure patterns;
to account for consumer substitution in response to relative price change; and
to account for changes in the quality of the goods and services that consumers
purchase. Drawing on selected recommendations made by the National
Academy of Sciences Panel on Conceptual, Measurement, and Other Statistical
Issues in Developing Cost-of-Living Indexes recently chaired by Charles Schultze
(hereafter, the Schultze panel), I highlight those additional areas for exploration
that I believe have the greatest potential and discuss those areas I believe to be less

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