Hedonic Quality Adjustment in the CPI


The CPI is calculated using prices for a fixed basket of goods and services through time. While the basket is periodically revised to reflect changing consumer expenditures, some items being priced in the sample come and go from the marketplace, making collection of these prices from month to month difficult. When an item is no longer available in the marketplace, a similar replacement item is selected. Often there are no similar items from which to choose, and as a result, a less comparable item is selected, potentially introducing quality change and an associated price differential into the index. The hedonic quality adjustment method removes any price differential attributed to a change in quality by adding or subtracting the estimated value of that change from the price of the old item.

More information on hedonic quality adjustment may be found on our page containing responses to frequently asked questions.

CPI Item Categories that Utilize Hedonic Quality Adjustments

Item Relative Importance December 2015
Men's Suits, Sport Coats and Outerwear 0.094
Men's Shirts and Sweaters 0.176
Men's Pants and Shorts 0.145
Boys' Apparel 0.160
Women's Outerwear 0.072
Women's Dresses 0.143
Women's Suits and Separates 0.471
Girls' Apparel 0.208
Men's Footwear 0.213
Boys' and Girls' Footwear 0.170
Women's Footwear 0.313
Major Appliances 0.060
Televisions 0.132
Other Video Equipment 0.026
Photographic Equipment and Supplies 0.038
Rent of Primary Residence 7.733
Owners' Equivalent Rent of Primary Residence 23.116

Hedonic quality adjustments for rent and owners equivalent rent are used primarily to adjust for the age of a rental unit, and for utility adjustments. Information on age bias adjustments for shelter can be found in  Updating the Housing Age-Bias Regression Model in the CPI (PDF). Information on shelter utility quality adjustments can be found in How the CPI measures price change for Owner's equivalent rent of primary residence (OER) and Rent of primary residence (Rent) (PDF). Additional information on both age bias and utility quality adjustments can be found in Updating the rent sample for the CPI housing survey.

Publications, Research and Other Documentation

  • BLS Hedonic Research (PDF)
  • BLS Handbook of Methods, Chapter 17, The Consumer Price Index, Pages 22-23 (PDF)


Last Modified Date: July 27, 2017