Division of Price and Index Number Research

The Division was created in 1963 in response to the Stigler Commission Report on Federal price statistics. It has had a long and successful professional history, both in providing economic consulting services to the Bureau and in serving as a source of, and conduit for, new ideas in the economics profession.

A large portion of Division staff time is devoted to individual, long term research on both theoretical and empirical topics. Traditionally, Division research has been oriented toward resolution of measurement problems, using a wide range of methods from microeconomic and macroeconomic theory, consumer economics, industrial organization, labor economics, mathematical economics, econometrics, and statistics.

The Division also provides consulting services to the other price program Divisions as the need arises. For example, staff members have worked with analysts from the Consumer Price Program to develop and analyze the new C-CPI-U (superlative price index). Currently consulting efforts also include projects involving the Producer Price Index Program and the Consumer Expenditure Surveys.

Current research includes:

  • Evaluating the differences between Consumer Expenditure Survey and Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE) data, and comparing the PCE deflator to the CPI.
  • Evaluating the measurement of health insurance prices.
  • Development of an alternative price index for college tuition
  • Evaluating the methodology of quality adjustment in the CPI
  • Developing hedonic methodologies for consumer audio products, personal computers, and televisions.
  • Evaluating the methodology for measuring the services from home-ownership in the CPI.
  • Examining the differences in measures of price change for different demographic groups.