May 29, 2008
The experimental Consumer Price Index for Americans 62 years of age and older, commonly called the CPI-E, has moved somewhat differently than the two official price indexes, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) and the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W).
From December 1982 to December 2007, the experimental CPI-E rose 126.5 percent, compared with increases of 115.2 percent for the CPI-U and 110.0 percent for the CPI-W. That translates into average annual increases of 3.3 percent, 3.1 percent, and 3.0 percent for the CPI-E, CPI-U, and CPI-W, respectively.
There are several reasons why older Americans faced slightly higher inflation rates over the past 25 years. Older Americans devote a substantially larger share of their total budgets to medical care, and medical care inflation has increased rapidly.
Older Americans spend more on shelter relative to the other population groups, and costs for shelter have modestly outpaced overall inflation. Other item categories have contributed to the higher rate of inflation for the elderly population as well: for example, fuel oil prices have outpaced overall inflation, and the typical older American spends a higher proportion of his or her expenditures on fuel oil than does the average consumer.
These data are from the Consumer Price Indexes program. To learn more about the experimental Consumer Price Index for Americans 62 years of age and older, see "The experimental consumer price index for elderly Americans (CPI-E): 1982-2007," by Kenneth J. Stewart, in the Monthly Labor Review (April 2008).