Hidden inflation?

October 20, 2012

Do measurements of inflation take into account when the package size of an item decreases but the price stays the same?  I’m going to guess they do, because we’re talking about cost per unit, something pretty obvious and something objectively measurable.

What about a change in materials?  I’m thinking of sweaters.  It used to be easy to buy an 100% wool sweater for a reasonable amount of money.  Now it seems that most sweaters are knit from a blend of materials, and include materials such as polyester, acrylic, nylon, and spandex.  These blends may be promoted as “cozy” or “light” or the like, but wool, angora, merino, or cashmere they are not.  They are not as warm and they have a different effect on body heat regulation, including things like exchange of moisture with the air.  (They can produce sweating without warmth, for example, in my experience.)  In other words, synthetics are not interchangeable with natural fibers.

So when sweater prices don’t go up all that much but now the sweaters are made from blends with synthetics, to me that’s inflation nonetheless.  I’m wondering if that’s measured and goes into inflation indices, too.  From my point of view, we’re getting less for, if not more, than at least the same price.

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