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September, 2000, Vol. 123, No. 9

Price index research
in the coming decades

The year 1999 marked 20 years since the National Bureau of Economi Re-
search (NBER) established its Program on Technological Change and Productivity Measurement. Over the past two decades, one of the important research emphases of this program has been its focus on price and output measurement. As part of the 20th anniversary and during the NBER’s 1999 Summer Institute, Ernst Berndt and Zvi Griliches convened a panel of price index specialists to present their individual views on what research agendas they would propose as meriting highest priority over the next 20 years.

After the panel session, Ernst Berndt asked the formal presenters to write up their remarks. This summary is based on an edited version of those reports provided to Monthly Labor Review by Professor Berndt.1 

As might be expected from such an eclectic group, the presentations were wide-ranging in their emphases and remarkable in their intellectual breadth. However, a relatively manageable set of themes emerged to be woven from the disparate strands of the papers:

1. Given the diversity of price index users, what are the right concepts toward which the indexes should be pointed and what are the boundaries constraining the operationalization of those concepts?

2. Within the conceptual scheme, what are the statistical issues that must be addressed?

3. Within a statistical framework, what are the operational issues that must be resolved?

4. Once these issues are resolved in a general way, what sector-specific challenges will remain?

This excerpt is from an article published in the September 2000 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.

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1 Note that the comments by Zvi Griliches have been transcribed from notes taken by Ernst Berndt; Professor Griliches was not able to review them, as he passed away on November 4, 1999.

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