There is no book currently available that gives a comprehensive treatment of the design, construction, and use of index numbers. However, there is a pressing need for one in view of the increasing and more sophisticated employment of index numbers in the whole range of applied economics and specifically in discussions of macroeconomic policy. In this book, R. G. D. Allen meets this need in simple and consistent terms and with comprehensive coverage.
The text begins with an elementary survey of the index-number problem before turning to more detailed treatments of the theory and practice of index numbers. The binary case in which one time period is compared with another is first developed and illustrated with numerous examples. This is to prepare the ground for the central part of the text on runs of index numbers. Particular attention is paid both to fixed-weighted and to chain forms as used in a wide range of published index numbers taken mainly from British official sources.
This work deals with some further problems in the construction of index numbers, problems which are both troublesome and largely unresolved. These include the use of sampling techniques in index-number design and the theoretical and practical treatment of quality changes. It is also devoted to a number of detailed and specific applications of index-number techniques to problems ranging from national-income accounting, through the measurement of inequality of incomes and international comparisons of real incomes, to the use of index numbers of stock-market prices. Aimed primarily at students of economics, whatever their age and range of interests, this work will also be of use to those who handle index numbers professionally.