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Using food prices and consumption to examine Chinese cost of living

Jonathan A. Cook and Fred Gale

Pacific Economic Review, 2019, vol. 24, issue 1, 3-26

Abstract: This paper considers two approaches to examining potential bias in China's consumer price index: (i) inferring true changes in cost of living from consumer behaviour; and (ii) creating alternative price indices to compare with official indices. For (i), our semi‐parametric estimates agree with the recent finding of a large understatement in increases to the true cost of living. For (ii), we focus on food prices and explore potential causes of bias. We find some evidence of a new‐good bias. China's large‐scale migration also causes changes in the cost of living that are not reflected in the consumer price index.

Date: 2019
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https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-0106.12282

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