Hedonic index

hedonic index is any price index which uses information from hedonic regression, which describes how product price could be explained by the product’s characteristics. Hedonic price indexes have proved to be very useful when applied to calculate price indices for information and communication products (e.g. personal computers) and housing,[1] because they can successfully mitigate problems such as those that arise from there being new goods to consider and from rapid changes of quality.

Motivation

In the last two decades considerable attention has been drawn to the methods of computing price indexes. The Boskin Commission in 1996 asserted that there were biases in the price index: traditional matched model indexes can substantially overestimate inflation, because they are not able to measure the impact of peculiarities of specific industries such as fast rotation of goods, huge quality differences among products on the market, and short product life cycle. The Commission showed that the usage of matched model indexes (traditional price indexes) leads to an overestimation of inflation by 0.6% per year in the US official CPI (CPI-U). Information and Communications Technology (ICT) products led both to an increase in capital stock and labor productivity growth.[2] Similar results were obtained by Crawford for Canada,[3] by Shiratsuka for Japan,[4] and by Cunningham for the UK.[5] By reversing hedonic methodology, and pending further disclosure from commercial sources, bias has also been enumerated annually over five decades, for the U.S.A.[6]

Quality adjustments are also important for understanding national accounts deflators (see GDP deflator). In the USA, for example, growth acceleration after 1995 was driven by the increased investment in ICT products that lead both to an increase in capital stock and labor productivity growth.[2] This increases the complexity of international comparisons of deflators. Wyckoff [7] and Eurostat[8] show that there is a huge dispersion in ICT deflators in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and European countries, accordingly.

These differences are so huge that it cannot be explained by any means of market conditions, regulation, etc. As both studies suggest, most of the discrepancy comes from the differences in quality adjustment procedures across countries and that, in turn, makes international comparison of investment in ICT impossible (as it is calculated through deflation). This also makes it difficult to compare the impact of ICT on economies (countries, regions, etc.) that use different methods to compute GDP numbers.

Ofer Abarbanel – Executive Profile

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Ofer Abarbanel online library

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