Harmonised index of consumer prices (HICP) (prc_hicp)

Reference Metadata in Euro SDMX Metadata Structure (ESMS)

Compiling agency: Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union


Eurostat metadata
Reference metadata
1. Contact
2. Metadata update
3. Statistical presentation
4. Unit of measure
5. Reference Period
6. Institutional Mandate
7. Confidentiality
8. Release policy
9. Frequency of dissemination
10. Accessibility and clarity
11. Quality management
12. Relevance
13. Accuracy
14. Timeliness and punctuality
15. Coherence and comparability
16. Cost and Burden
17. Data revision
18. Statistical processing
19. Comment
Related Metadata
Annexes (including footnotes)
National metadata



For any question on data and metadata, please contact: EUROPEAN STATISTICAL DATA SUPPORT

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1. Contact Top
1.1. Contact organisation

Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union

1.2. Contact organisation unit

C4: Price statistics. Purchasing power parities. Housing statistics

1.5. Contact mail address

2920 Luxembourg LUXEMBOURG


2. Metadata update Top
2.1. Metadata last certified 18/06/2018
2.2. Metadata last posted 18/06/2018
2.3. Metadata last update 18/06/2018


3. Statistical presentation Top
3.1. Data description

The Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) gives comparable measures of inflation for the countries and country groups for which it is produced. It is an economic indicator that measures the change over time of the prices of consumer goods and services acquired by households. In other words, it is a set of consumer price indices (CPI) calculated according to a harmonised approach and a set of definitions as laid down in Regulations and recommendations.

In addition, the HICP provides the official measure of consumer price inflation in the euro area for the purposes of monetary policy and the assessment of inflation convergence as required under the Maastricht criteria for accession to the euro.

The HICP is available for all EU Member States, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. In addition to the individual country series there are three key country-group aggregate indices: the euro area, the European Union (EU), and the European Economic Area (EEA), which, in addition to the EU, also covers Iceland and Norway, but not Liechtenstein.

The official country-group aggregates reflect the changing country composition of the EA, the EU and the EEA. The HICP for new Member States is chained into the aggregate indices at the time of accession. For analytical purposes Eurostat also computes country-group aggregates with stable country composition over time. For example, the EU28 aggregate shows price indices covering all current 28 Member States since 1997.

The HICP for Serbia and Turkey (candidate countries) are also published. That data are flagged 'd' ('definition differs'). A proxy-HICP for the all-items and main aggregates is available for the USA.

National HICPs are produced by National Statistical Institutes (NSIs), while the country-group aggregates are produced by Eurostat.

The data released monthly on Eurostat's free dissemination database include price indices and rates of change (monthly, annual and 12-month moving average changes). In addition to the headline figure 'all-items HICP', around four hundred sub-indices for different goods and services and over thirty special aggregates are available, including the HICP at administered prices (HICP-AP). Once a year, with the release of the January data, the relative weights for the indices and the special aggregates, are published for the individual countries and for the European aggregates. The composition of the HICP-AP aggregates, i.e. which sub-indices are classified as mainly or fully administered by each Member State, is also updated at the same time.

Eurostat publishes early estimates, called 'HICP flash estimates', of the euro area overall inflation rate and selected components. They are published monthly, usually on the last working day of the reference month, and disseminated in a news release, in the database and in a Statistics Explained article.

The HICP at constant tax rates (HICP-CT) follows the same computation principles as the HICP, but is based on prices at constant tax rates. The comparison with the standard HICP can show the potential impact of changes in indirect taxes, such as VAT and excise duties, on the overall inflation (more information).

Flags

Flags provide information about the 'status' of the data or a specific data value. The following flags are used for the HICP data in the Eurostat online database:

p = provisional data: Data is flagged as provisional by the National Statistical Institutes to signal that data are still being treated or validated. The 'p' flag remains attached to the HICP data values in question for one month only.

r = revised data. In the case when the most recent figures published differ from previously disseminated data, they are flagged with 'r'. Countries are allowed to revise their HICP figures at any point and, therefore, revised figures may appear in historic data. The 'r' flag remains attached to the HICP data values in question for one month only.

e = estimated data. All the figures of the HICP flash estimate are marked with the 'e' flag.

d = definition differs, meaning that the national definition of a series differs from the ECOICOP (European Classification of Individual Consumption according to Purpose) definition. It is also used for data values from countries for which conformity with the requirements of the HICP methodology has not yet been evaluated by Eurostat, including candidate countries, pre-candidate countries, new EU Member States and the United States of America.

u = unreliable data. Data is flagged as unreliable by the National Statistical Institutes.

The p, e, d and u flags described here do not affect the higher level of aggregation when assigned to a figure.

3.2. Classification system

The HICP components are currently classified according to the ECOICOP (European Classification of individual consumption by purpose).

Main ECOICOP headings:
00. All-items (total or all-items index)
01. Food and non-alcoholic beverages
02. Alcoholic beverages and tobacco
03. Clothing and footwear
04. Housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels
05. Furnishings, Household equipment and routine maintenance of the house
06. Health
07. Transport
08. Communication
09. Recreation and culture
10. Education
11. Restaurants and hotels
12. Miscellaneous goods and services

Additionally, Eurostat produces special aggregates that are derived from the hierarchically classified indices. For example, the special aggregate 'Energy' includes all the energy related sub-indices; most of them from division 04, but also 'Fuels and lubricants for personal transport equipment' from division 07. 'Education, health and social protection' includes sub-indices from divisions 06, 10 and 12. Currently, Eurostat publishes more than 30 special aggregates. The following are the four main special aggregates of the all-items HICP:

  • Energy
  • Food, alcohol and tobacco
  • Non-energy industrial goods
  • Services

In October 2016, Eurostat started publishing indices at the ECOICOP 5-digit level. Until then only the 4-digit level was available. For many countries, back series of the ECOICOP 5-digit level indices were not available as far back as 2005; this is one of the reasons for re-referencing the HICP to 2015=100.

Data for this more detailed level of the ECOICOP are available for most EU Member States, and the release of the data for the remaining countries is planned for 2017.

For more information on the rebasing and revision of the series, see points 3.9 'Base period' and 17.2 'Data revision - practice'.

3.3. Coverage - sector

The HICP is a consumer price index, that is, it covers the consumption expenditure of the household sector.

3.4. Statistical concepts and definitions

The published data are as follows:

HICP

Monthly data (2015=100, 2005=100 and 1996=100)

Annual data

HICP-CT

Monthly data (2015=100)

3.5. Statistical unit

Each published index or rate of change refers to the 'final monetary consumption expenditure' of the whole household sector of the corresponding geographical entity.

3.6. Statistical population

The target statistical universe is the 'household final monetary consumption expenditure' (HFMCE) within the economic territories of the countries compiling the HICP. The household sector to which the definition refers includes all individuals or groups of individuals, irrespective of the type of area in which they live, their position in the income distribution and their nationality or residence status. These definitions follow the national account concepts in the European System of Accounts (ESA 2010).

The HICP comprises all products and services purchased in monetary transactions by households, both resident and non-resident (i.e 'domestic concept'), within the territory of a country.

3.7. Reference area

Official country-group aggregates:

  • European Union (EU)
  • Euro area (EA)
  • European Economic Area (EEA) (excluding Liechtenstein)

Individual country series:

  • EU Member States
  • Iceland
  • Norway
  • Switzerland
  • Serbia
  • Turkey
  • USA (proxy-hicp)
3.8. Coverage - Time

The HICP is published since March 1997 and covers the time period from January 1996 onwards. See point 12.3 on 'Completeness' for more information.

For most countries, the HICP-CT is published since 2002.

3.9. Base period

According to Commission Regulation 2015/2010, starting with the release of January 2016 data, HICP and HICP-CT data are produced and published using the common index reference period 2015=100.

The change of the reference year caused revisions in a number of previously published inflation rates because of rounding effects. Thus, inflation rates for European and country aggregates calculated from the 2015=100 series can differ from the rates calculated from the 2005=100 series (see point 17.2 on 'Data revision practice').

The index series with reference periods 2005=100 and 1996=100 are included in dataset prc_hicp_midx. Those previous reference periods can be selected in the option 'Unit.


4. Unit of measure Top

The following units of measure are used:

  • Index (2015=100, 2005=100, 1996=100).
  • Annual rate of change (percentage change on the same period of the previous year).
  • Monthly rate of change (percentage change on the previous month).
  • 12-month average rate of change (average of the annual rate of change of the last 12 months).
  • Item and Country weights (percentage share of the total 'household final monetary consumption expenditure').
  • Composition of administered prices (each product will be assigned with the value '1' if it is an administered price during the reference year with the value '0' if it is not an administered price during the reference year).


5. Reference Period Top

Month (indices and rates).

Year (weights, indices and rates).


6. Institutional Mandate Top
6.1. Institutional Mandate - legal acts and other agreements

Regulation (EU) 2016/792 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2016 on harmonised indices of consumer prices and the house price index repeals Council Regulation (EC) No 2494/95 of 23 October 1995 and resets the legal basis for establishing a harmonised methodology for the compilation of the HICP, the euro area and the EU inflation figures.

This regulations gathers previous implementing legislation and covers over 20 specific governing issues, e.g. flash estimates, quality of weights, transmission and dissemination of sub-indices, coverage of goods and services, geographical and population coverage, minimum standards for the treatment of tariffs, insurance, health, education and social protection services, timing of entering prices, treatment of price reductions, treatment of service charges, revisions policy, new index reference periods, temporal coverage of price collection and sampling, replacement and quality adjustment procedures, seasonal items, and HICP at constant tax rates.

Recommendations on healthcare, telecommunications, the treatment of rents and the treatment of internet purchases have also been agreed with Member States.

All legislation is applicable to Iceland and Norway (European Economic Area countries), as well as to Switzerland.

Legislation and recommendations can be found in the HICP section on Eurostat's website.

6.2. Institutional Mandate - data sharing

None.


7. Confidentiality Top
7.1. Confidentiality - policy

Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 on European statistics (recital 24 and Article 20(4)) of 11 March 2009 (OJ L 87, p. 164), stipulates the need to establish common principles and guidelines ensuring the confidentiality of data used for the production of European statistics and the access to those confidential data with due account for technical developments and the requirements of users in a democratic society.

7.2. Confidentiality - data treatment

The confidential data transmitted are used exclusively for statistical purposes and only accessible to staff working in statistical activities within their specific domain of work, according to Article 22(5) of the Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council, of 11 March 2009, on the transmission of data subject to statistical confidentiality to the Statistical Office of the European Communities. See also point 8.3 on rules governing user access.


8. Release policy Top
8.1. Release calendar

The release schedule is publically available and published each year around mid-November for the full following year.

8.2. Release calendar access

Eurostat website: HICP Release schedule.

8.3. Release policy - user access

In line with the Community legal framework and the European Statistics Code of Practice Eurostat disseminates European statistics on Eurostat's website (see point 10 - 'Accessibility and clarity') respecting professional independence and in an objective, professional and transparent manner in which all users are treated equitably. The detailed arrangements are governed by the Eurostat protocol on impartial access to Eurostat data for users.


9. Frequency of dissemination Top

The HICP and HICP-CT are disseminated monthly, around the middle of the month that follows the reference month.

The flash estimate for the euro area and selected components are  usually disseminated on the last working day of the reference month or shortly thereafter.

In principle, no intermediate data updates are done outside the pre-agreed calendar update dates (see release schedule under point 8.2).


10. Accessibility and clarity Top
10.1. Dissemination format - News release

News releases, available online.

10.2. Dissemination format - Publications

HICP news release, available online.

Statistics explained article, available online.

10.3. Dissemination format - online database

Please consult free data online.

10.4. Dissemination format - microdata access

Not applicable.

10.5. Dissemination format - other

See also The HICP dedicated section on Eurostat's website.

10.6. Documentation on methodology

Eurostat's statistical encyclopaedia – Statistics Explained – includes a series of statistical articles relating to the HICP. More information is available on the HICP dedicated section on Eurostat’s website, including but not limited to the following:

10.7. Quality management - documentation

Compliance monitoring information notes are available in the Eurostat's HICP site, under 'Methodology' => Compliance monitoring.


11. Quality management Top
11.1. Quality assurance

Eurostat must ensure that the statistical practices used to compile the national HICP are compliant with the HICP methodological requirements and that good practices in the field of consumer price indices are being followed. To that end, Eurostat undertakes compliance monitoring visits to Member States during which it reviews HICP methodological issues.

Given the importance of the accuracy, reliability and comparability of the HICP, Eurostat systematically monitors the compliance of Member States with the legal requirements. The compliance monitoring is based on detailed documentation, analysis of data and methods as well as visits to NSIs. Eurostat publishes the findings in reports available on Eurostat's webpage

There is continuous work to improve the HICP quality and comparability across countries developed through several Task Forces and a Working Group.

11.2. Quality management - assessment

Not assessed.


12. Relevance Top
12.1. Relevance - User Needs

In addition to being a general measure of inflation, the HICP is also used in the areas of:

  • wages, social benefit and contract indexation;
  • economic forecasting and analysis;
  • measuring specific price trends;
  • accounting purposes and deflating other series;
  • inflation targeting by central banks;
  • cross-country economic comparisons.

The euro area (evolving composition) index is used by the European Central Bank (ECB) as the main indicator for monetary policy management. The ECB and the European Commission's Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN) use the HICP for assessing price stability and price convergence required for entry into European Monetary Union.

Other users include: National Central Banks, financial institutions, economic analysts, the media and the public at large.

12.2. Relevance - User Satisfaction

No information.

12.3. Completeness

HICP indices and weights are available since January 1996.

Specific data availability list of COICOPs not starting in January 1996:

  • Bulgaria: since December 1996
  • Czech Republic: 3 and 4-digit COICOPs: since December 1999. (All-items and 2-digit COICOPs since January 1996)
  • Croatia: All-items and 2-digit COICOPs since January 1998. (3 and 4-digit COICOPs: since December 2004)
  • Hungary: since December 2000. (All-items and 2-digit COICOPs since January 1996)
  • Romania: since December 2000. (All-items and 2-digit COICOPs since January 1996)
  • Slovenia: since December 1999. (All-items and 2-digit COICOPs since January 1996)
  • Switzerland: since December 2004
  • Serbia: since December 2005
  • US (proxy-HICP): since 2001 for the all-items and 2-digit COICOP (main headings)


13. Accuracy Top
13.1. Accuracy - overall

The accuracy of the source data is monitored by assessing the methodological soundness of price and weight sources and the adherence to the methodological recommendations.

There are a variety of data sources both for weights (National Accounts data, Household Budget Survey data, etc.) and prices (visits to local retailers and service providers and central collection via mail, telephone, e-mail and the internet are used).

The type of survey and the price collection methods ensure sufficient coverage and timeliness. The outlets from which prices are collected are chosen to represent the existing trade and services networks and they are usually based  on three main criteria:

  • Popularity with consumers;
  • Significant turnover from consumer sales; and
  • Availability of goods and services included in the HICP basket.

All private households in the economic territory of the country are covered, both resident and non-resident, irrespective of their income.

13.2. Sampling error

The HICP is a statistical estimate that is subject to sampling errors because it is based on a sample of consumer prices and household expenditures, not on the complete universe of all prices/expenditures in an economy.

The NSIs responsible for the compilation of national indices generally do not produce numerical estimates of HICP sampling errors, which are difficult to quantify due to the complexity of price index structures and the common use of non-probability sampling. Consequently, no estimate for a global HICP sampling error is available.

The NSIs try to reduce the sampling errors by using a sample of consumer prices that is as large as possible, under their resource constraints. In order to minimise the variance of the all-items index, the NSIs often use models that optimise the allocation of resources by indicating the number of prices that should be observed in each geographical area and each item category.

13.3. Non-sampling error

The HICP non-sampling errors are not quantified. Eurostat and the NSIs try to reduce non-sampling errors through continuous methodological improvements and survey process improvements, such as computer assisted price collection that can help avoid coding and typing errors.


14. Timeliness and punctuality Top
14.1. Timeliness

The full set of HICPs is published each month according to a pre-announced schedule, usually between 15 and 18 days after the end of the reference month. Each year, the January news release is published at the end of February to allow for the annual update of the weights of individual product groups and the relative country weights of Members States in the country-group aggregates.

The euro area flash estimate is published on the last working day of the reference month or shortly after that.

14.2. Punctuality

Since the March 1997, launch of the HICP release, the HICP for the country groups aggregates has always been published on the pre-announced release dates.


15. Coherence and comparability Top
15.1. Comparability - geographical

Definitions and classifications have been harmonised in a series of legal acts. The HICP is produced based on minimum standards that may be applied with some flexibility as long as the effect on the value of the indicator remains below 0.1 percentage point on average over one year against the previous year (Article 7 of Commission Regulation (EC) No 1749/96 of 9 September 1996 on initial implementing measures for Council Regulation (EC) No 2494/95 concerning harmonised indices of consumer prices).

The work carried out for the harmonisation of quality adjustments and sampling methods across the EU Member States is expected to further improve the comparability of the HICP across countries.

15.2. Comparability - over time

HICP data are considered to be comparable over time. However, due to several methodological improvements since the start of the HICP, some breaks in the time series emerge.  In such cases, if the needed data are available, back calculations are performed and historical series are revised.

15.3. Coherence - cross domain

There is only one set of HICPs available. Identical data are shown in several data collections. The methods and results may differ compared to national CPIs.

Consumer price index data are disseminated through Eurostat's website:

  • Selected statistics => Prices (HICP) => Database
  • Selected statistics => Prices (HICP) => Main tables
  • Selected statistics => Principal European Economic Indicators (PEEIs)
15.4. Coherence - internal

The HICPs are internally coherent. Higher level aggregations are derived from detailed indices according to well-defined procedures.


16. Cost and Burden Top

No information.


17. Data revision Top
17.1. Data revision - policy

The HICP series, including back data, is revisable at any point in time under the terms set in Commission Regulation (EC) No 1921/2001 of 28 September 2001. The published HICP data may be revised for corrections, new or improved information, and changes in the system of harmonised rules.

17.2. Data revision - practice

The HICP data are released monthly, and they may include some provisional data for the latest month. These are usually confirmed or the final figures are revised the following month.

Major revisions are normally released with explanatory notes in the press release. Any substantial changes in methodology are commented with the first release of data affected by such changes.

In the monthly HICP update, new data are added and the existing data are overwritten with any revised data. Changes compared to the previous update are generally only flagged until the next update. A selection of unrevised series can be found in the monthly HICP publication series 'Data in Focus' up to December 2015 and can be retrieved from the HICP dedicated section in pdf format. The publication has been replaced by a database table ('HICP – First published data' (prc_hicp_fp)). The table contains monthly HICP indices for all Member States and Candidate Countries in reference years 2015, 2005 and 1996, as well as the HICP monthly and annual rates (selectable under 'Unit'). The figures in the table are the data as first published on the day of the HICP monthly release and remain unrevised. The table contains data starting from January 2016.

Starting with the release of January 2016 data, the reference year of the HICP changed to 2015=100.

The change of reference year caused revisions in a number of previously published inflation rates because of rounding effects. Thus inflation rates for European and country aggregates calculated from the 2015=100 series can differ from the rates calculated from the 2005=100 series. The indices for individual countries are published rounded to either one or two decimal places, in line with national practices. The index levels of European aggregates are released rounded to two decimals. The monthly and annual inflation rates are calculated from these index levels and subsequently rounded to one decimal place for publication. This practice is followed so that the published inflation rates match the corresponding released index levels.

Eurostat has removed the rounding that has been applied since the beginning of the HICP to the calculation of European and special aggregates for the indices from January 1996 to December 2005 and has recalculated the indices without rounding. That way the calculation of the HICP aggregates is now done using unrounded indices throughout. As a result, there are additional revisions to the HICP rates for the data before 2007.

Moreover, some countries reviewed or are currently reviewing their product classification or back data due to the introduction of the fifth level of the ECOICOP. When needed, they are re-classifying some products in order to be fully in line with the ECOICOP. In such cases, there are or will be minor revisions of the corresponding data. Summary information on the revisions on the HICP is available on the HICP dedicated section on Eurostat's website.


18. Statistical processing Top
18.1. Source data

Product selection, sampling and data collection are carried out by the NSIs. There are a variety of data sources both for weights (National Accounts, Household Budget Survey etc.) and prices (visits to local retailers and service providers and central collection via mail, telephone, email and the internet).

The type of survey used is chosen by each NSI. However, all HICPs are based on the continuous measurement of a sample of prices of specified goods and services. The HICP must be based on samples sufficient to yield reliable and comparable results, taking into account the national diversity of products and prices. Furthermore, as products or retail outlets disappear from the market, they need to be replaced with new ones. The HICP must be based on up-to-date samples, in particular by ceasing the practice of assuming that 'missing' prices are simply equal to the last observed prices. The HICP incorporates a new product when it achieves a sales volume of over one part per thousand of total consumer expenditure covered by the HICP in a Member State.

Given that the HICP aims at measuring 'pure' price changes, it should be unaffected by changes in the quality of goods and services. Therefore, prices need to be adjusted for such quality changes. Differences among quality adjustment procedures in Member States could give rise to differences in results. The HICP is constructed according to rules which forbid certain extreme practices, such as 'automatic linking'—the assumption that the difference in price between two successive models is wholly attributable to a difference in quality—which could lead to underestimating the inflation.

For example, it is impossible to compare the price of a car with that of a 'similar' one sold five years before. The quality of the car will have changed in the meanwhile, and the comparison of prices must take that into account. The price statistician must therefore make a quality adjustment – an estimate of the part of the total price change between the two cars due to a quality change as opposed to a genuine price change.

18.2. Frequency of data collection

Since January 2008, price collection takes place across at least one working week period at or near the middle of the calendar month to which the index pertains. When products are known to show sharp and irregular price changes within the same month, prices are collected over a period of more than one working week. This rule applies in particular for energy products and fresh food, such as fruit and vegetables (see Regulation (EC) No 701/2006 on temporal coverage of price collection).

18.3. Data collection

The price collection methods are chosen by the NSIs as far as they ensure sufficient quality, according to the legislative framework underlying the production of HICP.

The Member States' and other countries' HICPs are supplied by the NSIs; the aggregate indices for the euro area, the EU and the EEA as well as special aggregates are compiled by Eurostat.

18.4. Data validation

Data validation is done by the NSIs; additional quality and consistency checks are also carried out by Eurostat.

18.5. Data compilation

The HICP country-group aggregates for the euro area, EU and EEA, as well as special aggregates are calculated by Eurostat using the HICP provided by the countries. The computation consists of three main steps:

  1. Price changes since December of the previous year are derived from the HICP;
  2. The weighted average of these price changes is computed using the weights of the countries and sub-indices concerned. The weight of a country is its share of the HFMCE in the total of the country group;
  3. The annual price change of the country group is chain-linked to December of the previous year in order to provide a series with a common reference period.

The euro area aggregate is compiled as a weighted average of the Member States whose currency is euro. The country weights are derived from National Accounts data for the HFMCE expressed in euros. The index is computed as an annual chain index allowing for country weights to change each year and for adding new Member States as they join the euro area. For the EU and EEA HICP aggregates, the euro area is treated as a single entity to which data for the other countries is then added (the weights are derived from National Accounts data, converted into purchasing power standards). Note that for any mid-year EU enlargement, chain-linking was also added to the entry month to maintain the correct country coverage for both the EU and EEA aggregates.

18.6. Adjustment

Data are not seasonally adjusted.


19. Comment Top

Country-specific information

Links to the detailed country-specific information can be found at the top of this document and in the HICP dedicated section => Metadata and national practices.

 

Rebasing 2015=100

Information

 

ECOICOP

See Information note and points 3.2, 3.9 and 17.2.

 

Contributions

See more details.

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

FAQ page


Related metadata Top


Annexes Top