Household Inflation Experiences in the U.S.: A Comprehensive Approach


Bart Hobijn

Kristin Mayer

Carter Stennis

Giorgio Topa

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2009-19 | September 1, 2009

We present new measures of household-specific inflation experiences based on comprehensive information from the Consumer Expenditure Survey (CEX). We match households in the Interview and the Diary Surveys from the CEX to produce both complete and detailed pictures of household expenditures. The resulting household inflation measures are based on a more accurate and detailed description of household expenditures than those previously available. We find that our household-based inflation measures track aggregate measures such as the CPI-U quite well and that the addition of Diary Survey data induces small but significant differences in the measurement of household inflation. The distribution of inflation experiences across households exhibits a large amount of dispersion over the entire sample period. In addition, we uncover a significantly negative relationship between mean inflation and inflation inequality across households.

Article Citation

Hobijn, Bart, Carter Stennis, Giorgio Topa, and Kristin Mayer. 2009. “Household Inflation Experiences in the U.S.: A Comprehensive Approach,” Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Working Paper 2009-19. Available at