How can we accurately measure changes in living standards over time in the presence of price inflation? In this post, I discuss a novel and simple methodology that uses the cross-sectional relationship between income and household-level inflation to construct accurate measures of changes in living standards that account for the dependence of consumption preferences on income. Applying this method to data from the U.S. suggests potentially substantial mismeasurements in our available proxies of average growth in consumer welfare in the U.S.
As inflation has risen to forty-year highs, inflation inequality—disparities in the rates of inflation experienced by different demographic and economic groups– has become an increasingly important concern. In this three-part blog series, we revisit our main finding from June—that inflation inequality has increased across racial and ethnic groups—and provide estimates of differential inflation rates across groups based on income, education, age, and geographic location. We also use an updated methodology for computing inflation disparities by focusing on more disaggregated categories of spending, which corroborates our earlier findings and substantiates our conclusion that inflation inequality is a pronounced feature of the current inflationary episode.