The Mysterious Cross-Country Dispersion in Mobile Phone Price Trends
No 2019-08-05, FEDS Notes from Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.)
Mobile phones have been central to ICT innovation since the introduction of the smartphone and constant-quality prices are a barometer of their economic impact. Official consumer price indices (CPIs) indicate that impact differs wildly across countries: For the 2008-2018 period, average annual rates of mobile phone inflation range from no change to a 25 percent decline among 12 key countries examined in this paper. Although evidence indicates certain fundamental factors are at play, mis-measurement may lead the spread in rates to be overstated. Examination of methods employed in CPI calculation, including quality adjustment and index formulas, illuminates but does not resolve the mystery.
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