Measuring Prices and Quantities Conference

Date & Time

18 March 2020




Postponed until a date to be announced.


HE Delegates: £30
Charity or Government: £120
Other Delegates: £120

Please note this conference has been postponed until a date to be announced.

This conference on 18th March.

The problems involved in producing measures of price change and quantity change are substantial. Historically the focus has been on measuring price changes to derive quantity changes. Price indices themselves are constructed from price data collected mainly from shops and combining them using weights collected by household or business surveys.

An important purpose behind the production of price indices is to make it possible to examine how welfare is changing. This raises problems of its own. And a particular issue can arise over the provision of publicly-provided goods which, even if not provided free, may not be sold at free-market prices.

Nowadays the increasing use of scanners in shops and the rising importance of web transactions offer new sources of data but at the same time raise new questions. In particular scanner data make available timely quantity and price data, and raise the possibility of constructing price indices which reflect quantity responses in real time.

Nevertheless substantial issues in identifying quality changes, and thus producing satisfactory decomposition of value changes into price changes and quantity changes remain. The issue is perhaps particularly acute with housing, where there are in any case a number of additional important conceptual issues.

The provisional programme for the conference is now available, please click here for the programme.

Erwin Diewert gained his PhD at Berkeley in 1969 where he was advised by Dan McFadden. He has been a Professor of Economics at the Vancouver School of Economics at the University of British Colombia, where he was also an undergraduate and post-graduate student, since 1970. He also holds a part-time appointment at the University of New South Wales.

His areas of interest are price measurement, the measurement of productivity and index number theory and more generally, welfare economics and applied general equilibrium modelling. His early work on index numbers was brought together in a volume of collected papers Essays in Index Number Theory. It includes “Exact and Superlative Index Numbers”, one of his best-known papers published in the Journal of Econometrics in 1976. He also introduced (with Caves and Christensen) the Malmquist productivity index and he developed and promoted the concept of the user cost of capital. Later work has focused on the problems of making price and quantity comparisons across countries and on some of the problems to be addressed in measuring capital inputs. Recent publications include work on industry productivity and cross-country convergence in the Journal of Eonometrics (2016) and an overview of innovations in measurement in economics and econometrics, also in the Journal of Econometrics (2016).

His work has found many applications in official statistics. He encouraged the adoption of chained index numbers in the national accounts, a practice which is now widespread. He is a Member of the Royal Society of Canada, a Fellow of the Econometric Society and Chairman of the Statistics Canada Advisory Committee on Prices.

Cemmap, the Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice is a research centre supported by the Economic and Social Research Council. Cemmap develops and applies methods for modelling individual behaviour, the influences on it and the impact of policy interventions.


The Economic and Statistics Working Group was set up and is supported by the Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence, the Office for National Statistics, the Royal Economic Society, the Royal Statistical Society and the Society of Professional Economists to promote research and understanding of issues associated with economic statistics.