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International Monetary Fund


1.1 A price index is a measure of the proportionate, or percentage, changes in a set of prices over time. A consumer price index (CPI) measures changes in the prices of goods and services that households consume. Such changes affect the real purchasing power of consumers’ incomes and their welfare. As the prices of different goods and services do not all change at the same rate, a price index can only reflect their average movement. A price index is typically assigned a value of unity, or 100, in some reference period and the values of the index for other periods of time are intended to indicate the average proportionate, or percentage, change in prices from this price reference period. Price indices can also be used to measure differences in price levels between different cities, regions or countries at the same point in time.