• B. R. Mitchell
Part of the International Historical Statistics book series (IHS)


There is a considerable array of material on prices available for most countries far back in time, before the period covered here. Most of this, however, is intractable in the extreme and it has been decided to exclude it from this work. Instead, there are two sets of indices, based on this material, but reducing it to some sort of readily comprehensible order. It was felt that annual averages of prices in local currencies of (say) a kilogram of wheat were unlikely to be of use except to the specialist, and that a general indication of overall price levels would be more widely useful. Of course, there is oversimplification and distortion in the process. Like all index numbers, those presented here require careful interpretation. In order to achieve exact comparability of an index over long periods of time the commodities and their weighting must remain unchanged. However, in a changing economy first the weightings and then probably the commodities themselves will cease to be appropriate representations of the quantities and of the things actually used. All indices, therefore, must compromise between continuity and relevance, and the more rapid is economic change the more frequent must be the breaks in continuity.


Price Level General Index Retail Price Retail Prex Careful Interpretation 
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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1998

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  • B. R. Mitchell

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