Alternative approaches to CPI aggregation

January 10, 2001

Both "plutocratic" and "democratic" approaches to consumer price index aggregation yield very similar index values.

Plutocratic and democratic index values (alternative aggregations of consumer prices), 1987-97
[Chart data—TXT]

In a plutocratic index, the relative level of total expenditures of each household provides the weights. For a democratic index, each household's expenditure patterns is equally weighted. One can view the plutocratic case as "one dollar, one vote" and the democratic case as "one household, one vote."

As shown in the chart, from 1987 to 1997, the two approaches produce similar index numbers. In most years, the plutocratic index is below the democratic index, but the difference between the two indexes is small-about one percent or less.

This research was conducted by the BLS Consumer Price Index program. Find out more in "Alternative CPI aggregations: two approaches," by Mary Kokoski, Monthly Labor Review, November 2000.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Alternative approaches to CPI aggregation on the Internet at (visited September 28, 2016).


Recent editions of Spotlight on Statistics

  • A look at healthcare spending, employment, pay, benefits, and prices
    As one of the largest U.S. industries, healthcare is steadily growing to meet the needs of an increasing population with an increasing life expectancy. This Spotlight looks at how much people spend on healthcare, current and projected employment in the industry, employer-provided healthcare benefits, healthcare prices, and pay for workers in healthcare occupations.

  • Employment and Wages in Healthcare Occupations
    Healthcare occupations are a significant percentage of U.S. employment. Some of the largest and highest paying occupations are in healthcare. This Spotlight examines employment and wages for healthcare occupations.

  • Fifty years of looking at changes in peoples lives
    Longitudinal surveys help us understand long-term changes, such as how events that happened when a person was in high school affect labor market success as an adult.