Is the United States CPI Biased Across Income and Age Groups?


S. Nuri Erbas ; Chera L. Sayers

Publication Date:

September 1, 1998

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Disclaimer: This Working Paper should not be reported as representing the views of the IMF.The views expressed in this Working Paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of the IMF or IMF policy. Working Papers describe research in progress by the author(s) and are published to elicit comments and to further debate


The recent Boskin Commission Report (1996) underscores a significant upward bias in CPI measurement in the United States. This may result in excessive cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) of some entitlements in the federal budget because COLA is indexed to CPI. This paper presents some evidence that overall CPI may be biased against lower income elderly households, the primary beneficiaries of COLA. Although a downward adjustment in CPI resulting in an across-the-board cut in COLA of entitlements may yield significant budgetary savings, it may result in a deterioration in income distribution against lower income elderly households.


Working Paper No. 1998/136



Publication Date:

September 1, 1998



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