Harmonised index of consumer prices (HICP) (prc_hicp)

National Reference Metadata in Euro SDMX Metadata Structure (ESMS)

Compiling agency: National Statistical Institute of Austria

Time Dimension: 2017-A0

Data Provider: AT1

Data Flow: HICP_ESMS_A

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)

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


1. Contact Top
1.1. Contact organisation

National Statistical Institute of Austria

1.2. Contact organisation unit

Department for macro-economic statistics

1.5. Contact mail address

Guglgasse 13
1110 Vienna

2. Metadata update Top
2.1. Metadata last certified 06/04/2017
2.2. Metadata last posted 06/04/2017
2.3. Metadata last update 06/04/2017

3. Statistical presentation Top
3.1. Data description

Harmonised indices of consumer prices (HICPs) give comparable measures of inflation for the countries and country groups they are produced. They are economic indicators that measure the change over time of the prices of consumer goods and services acquired by households. In other words they are a set of consumer price indices (CPIs) calculated according to a harmonised approach and a single set of definitions.

3.2. Classification system

COICOP/HICP (Classification of Individual Consumption by Purpose adapted to the needs of Harmonised Indices of Consumer Prices).

3.3. Coverage - sector

HICPs cover the whole household sector, more precisely the goods and services that are acquired by households.

3.4. Statistical concepts and definitions

The published is as follows:

1. Monthly data:

  • Indices (HICP 2015=100, HICP 2005=100, HICP: 1996=100, HICP at constant taxes 2015=100 and 2005=100)
  • Annual rates of change
  • Monthly rates of change
  • 12-month average rate of change

2. Annual data:

  • Average index and rate of change
  • Country weights
  • Item weights
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, in particular, 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 accounts concepts in the European System of Accounts (ESA 2010).
HICPs comprise all purchases by households within the territory of a country; those by both resident and non-resident households (i.e. 'domestic concept'). HICPs cover the prices paid for goods and services in monetary transactions. The prices measured are those actually faced by consumers. The HICPs exclude interest and credit charges, regarding them as financing costs rather than consumption expenditure.

3.7. Reference area

The HICP covers the entire area of the country.
Price collection is carried out in 20 main cities. Prices may be collected in the immediate surroundings of these cities if shopping centers and the like are deemed important. There is no local price collection outside these 20 cities which, by themselves, cover 40 % of the Austrian population, or more if suburbs are included. The 20 cities include the 14 biggest cities in Austria. The smallest city in which prices are collected has 11 000 inhabitants.
For hotels and accommodation and insurances the prices are collected locally also in rural areas by the central staff. Items which have unique prices in the whole country or are difficult to collect for some reason are also collected centrally.

3.8. Coverage - Time

HICPs for Austria are available from 1995 (earlier figures are estimates based on the national CPI).

3.9. Base period

The index reference period is 2015=100.

4. Unit of measure Top

Following units are used:

  • Index (actually unitless, i.e. it is the ratio of the price of the basket in a given year to the price in the base year multiplied by 100. However, the HICP can be thought of as the amount the average consumer would have to spend in a given year to buy the same basic goods and services that one would have to pay 100 monetary units for in the base period);
  • Percentage change on the same period of the previous year (rates);
  • Percentage change on the previous period (rates);
  • Percentage share of the total (weights).

5. Reference Period Top


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

Harmonised Indices of Consumer Prices (HICPs) are harmonised inflation figures required under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Council Regulation (EC) No 2016/792 of 11 May 2016 (OJ L 135) sets the legal basis for establishing a harmonised methodology for the compilation of the HICP, the MUICP and the EICP.
The Commission has brought forward detailed Regulations establishing the specific rules governing the production of harmonised indices. To date, 21 specific regulations governing issues as 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 period, temporal coverage of price collection and sampling, replacement and quality adjustment procedures, and seasonal items have been adopted. A recommendation on the treatment of health care has also been published.
All relevant regulations as well as further methodological details can be found in the HICP section on Eurostat's website under Methodology => Legislation.

6.2. Institutional Mandate - data sharing


7. Confidentiality Top
7.1. Confidentiality - policy

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.

7.2. Confidentiality - data treatment

According to policy rules (see 7.1).

8. Release policy Top
8.1. Release calendar

The release calendar is published by the end of each year for the coming year via internet.

8.2. Release calendar access

Eurostat's website

8.3. Release policy - user access

Data is published on the webpage of Statistik Austria (www.statistik.at). Further user information can be obtained via Telephone, Email and HICP database (see point 10.3).

9. Frequency of dissemination Top

Harmonised consumer price indices are produced monthly.

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

Monthly regular press release.

10.2. Dissemination format - Publications

Statistik Austria disseminates the Austrian HICP at the same time as Eurostat publishes HICP data. The Austrian HICP data are published as preliminary in t+1. The final data are published in the following month (t+2).

10.3. Dissemination format - online database

HICP database.

10.4. Dissemination format - microdata access


10.5. Dissemination format - other

See also Eurostat´s HICP website.

10.6. Documentation on methodology

Methodological articles regarding the Austrian HICP are available in the monthly 'Statistische Nachrichten' published by Statistik Austria.
The latest comprehensive methodological update is described in 'VPI und HVPI-Revision 2010, Neuer Warenkorb und Gewichtung' — Statistische Nachrichten 05/2011.

10.7. Quality management - documentation

Regular compliance monitoring visits by Eurostat, documentation available at Eurostat´s HICP website.
Quality report on the website of Statistics Austria.

11. Quality management Top
11.1. Quality assurance

Controls on the quality of the data
Checks are carried out at many levels and in several steps. For example, extreme price changes are identified and verified. Price movements for Elementary Aggregates (EAs) all the way up to the all-items index are checked. The full aggregation is repeated up to seven times in this process.
There is no automatic editing. Local price collectors are contacted frequently (100-200 times per month) to confirm price observations. This results occasionally in a revision of a price observation, either immediately or in the following month.

11.2. Quality management - assessment

The quality of the HICP can be assumed to be very high. Its concepts and methodology have been developed according to international standards and using consumer price statistics experience from all EU Member States. HICPs are considered to be sufficiently accurate for all practical purposes they are put into. In particular it is the best measure of inflation for the euro area and European Union as a whole as well as for the comparisons of inflation across countries for which it is compiled. The indices are disseminated around mid-month following a predetermined timetable.
Further work is ongoing to improve the quality and in particular the comparability of the index. Key priorities are the treatment of owner-occupied housing (currently excluded) and greater harmonisation of methods for quality adjustment and sampling. Statistik Austria is also working on additional indices, for example an index series on administered prices and HICP at constant taxes.

12. Relevance Top
12.1. Relevance - User Needs

Besides its role as a general measure of inflation, HICP has a variety of potential other uses, for example:

  • wage, social benefit and contract indexation,
  • input to economic forecasting and analysis,
  • measuring specific price trends,
  • accounting purposes and deflating other series,
  • inflation targeting by central bank.

Generally, HICPs are in particular suited for cross-country economic comparisons.
A key user of the HICPs is the European Central Bank (the ECB) who uses the euro area index (MUICP) as the main indicator for monetary policy management. The ECB and the European Commission, in particular its Economic and Financial Affairs Directorate-General use HICPs for assessing price stability and price convergence required for entry into European Monetary Union.
The main users, apart from those above, include National Central Banks and other financial institutions; economic analysts, media and public at large.

12.2. Relevance - User Satisfaction

No information.

12.3. Completeness

All COICOP indices at 4-digit level are produced.

13. Accuracy Top
13.1. Accuracy - overall

The accuracy of HICP is generally considered to be high. The accuracy of source data is monitored by assessing the methodological soundness of price and weight sources and the adherence to the methodological recommendations. There is 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 network and they are based usually on three main criteria: popularity with consumers; significant turnover from consumer sales; and availability of goods and services included in the HICP basket. All the private households in the economic territory of the country are covered, whether resident or not and irrespective of their income.
Furthermore, Eurostat and the Member States are actively following up an Action Plan concerning quality adjustment and sampling issues. Concrete best practices have been agreed for a range of specific goods and services (in particular cars, consumer durables, books and CDs, clothing and computers).

13.2. Sampling error

The sampling errors are reduced by using a sample of consumer prices that is as large as possible, given resource constraints. A model that optimises the allocation of resources by indicating the number of prices that should be observed in each geographic area and each item category is used, in order to minimize the variance of the all-items index.

13.3. Non-sampling error

For the HICP non-sampling errors are not quantified. They are reduced through continuous methodological improvements and survey process improvements, which can help avoiding 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 — in general between 14 and 19 days after the end of the month to which the index refers. This schedule has advanced significantly since the HICP was first published, as a result of a series of improvements to timeliness made both in the EU Member States and at Eurostat.
The Flash estimate for the Euro Area is published usually on the last working day of the reference month.

14.2. Punctuality

Since the launch, in March 1997, the HICPs for the country groups averages have always been published on the pre-announced release dates.

15. Coherence and comparability Top
15.1. Comparability - geographical

The comparability of HICP across countries is regarded to be high. Definitions and classifications have been harmonised in a series of legal acts that have resolved conceptual disparities. HICPs are produced based on minimum standards, which may be applied with some flexibility as long as the effect on the value of the indicator remains below 0.1%. Member States differ in the frequency of updating weights. Some countries apply a 'fixed base index formula', updating the weights in three to five-year intervals; others compute a chain-index with annual weight updating. However, the effect on the value of the indicator is negligible and therefore these differences do not affect comparability.
The work carried out for the harmonisation of quality adjustment and sampling methods across EU countries is expected to further improve the comparability of the HICP.

15.2. Comparability - over time

HICP data are fully comparable over time. There have been several improvements in methodology since HICP was introduced with the aim of improving reliability and comparability of the HICP. These changes may have introduced breaks in time series. However back calculations under the newer standards were performed when appropriate basic data was available.

15.3. Coherence - cross domain

Differences between the HICP and national CPI
The following expenditure is included in the HICP but excluded from national CPI: consumption expenditure of non-residents in the economic territory.
The following consumption expenditure is included in the national CPI but excluded from HICP: monetary expenditure of investments in an owner-occupied house is measured (major repairs), but not the acquisition of the house itself. Games of chance, road taxes and insurance for owner-occupied housing are also included in the national CPI, but excluded from the HICP.

15.4. Coherence - internal

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

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

17.2. Data revision - practice

The data are preliminary when first released and final when the data of the following month are published for the first time.

18. Statistical processing Top
18.1. Source data

Sample size (2016):

The prices of about 40 000 consumer goods and services are surveyed on average per month in about 4 200 outlets. About 37 980 price observations are collected regionally in 20 Austrian cities. Prices for cars, PCs insurance and many kinds of tariffs are collected by Statistics Austria centrally. Tariffs for telecommunications and other tariffs are entered in the index as weighted average price and are counted as one price. Prices for rents are also calculated centrally as average prices and come from a separate survey covering the whole of Austria.

Nr. of price observations per month (40 377 average number):
01 Food and non-alcoholic beverages: 14 014
02 Alcoholic beverages, tobacco: 1 035
03 Clothing and footwear:  6 292 
04 Housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels: 911 (plus some 8 500 prices for rents per quarter)
05 Furnishings, household equip. and routine maintenance of the house: 3 627
06 Health: 551
07 Transport: 2 469
08 Communications: 52 (plus 1066 tariff elements for telecommunication services)
09 Recreation and culture: 3 240
10 Education: 348
11 Restaurants and hotels: 4 246
12 Miscellaneous goods and services: 3 594


Number of representative products at lowest classification level (reference year 2016):

All-items (789)
01 Food and non-alcoholic beverages: 128
02 Alcoholic beverages, tobacco: 10
03 Clothing and footwear: 62
04 Housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels: 47
05 Furnishings, household equipment and routine maintenance of the house: 72
06 Health: 37
07 Transport : 170
08 Communications: 11
09 Recreation and culture: 109
10 Education: 15
11 Restaurants and hotels: 50
12 Miscellaneous goods and services: 78

18.2. Frequency of data collection

There are two price observation weeks each month. The first observation week includes the Wednesday between the 6th and the 12th day of each month. The second one is two weeks later. Fruits and vegetables are collected in both observation weeks. Items which have a known varying price structure within a month – e.g. package holidays, airfare tickets, fuel – are collected in each week of the month. Rent prices are collected monthly in a separate survey (Mikrozensus) with 8 500 price observations.

18.3. Data collection

Outlet selection
About 4 200 outlets in the country are chosen for the survey. The outlets are chosen by the regional offices as being representative of the particular product groups and of the places where households make their purchases. Outlets may be chosen outside the administrative border of the cities, e.g. shopping centres, if they are popular. The sample is updated and new outlets introduced, normally on a one-to-one basis as old outlets close or become less important (in terms of turnover). The outlet replacement rate was lower than 0.1% in 2016.
Internet shopping is included in the index, mail order is covered for clothing, household utensils and electronic goods.

Techniques of product selection and specification
The choice of products in an outlet is made by the price collectors — taking into account the specifications provided for the products, i.e. products must be selling well, continuously available and 'easy to recover' products. The aim is continual replacement in order to ensure ongoing representativity. Usually the specification contains an obligatory part (e.g. jeans should contain cotton) and an optional part (e.g. jeans may contain other materials).

18.4. Data validation

Data validation is done by Statistik Austria; additional quality checks are carried out also by Eurostat.

18.5. Data compilation

The main sources for the weights are National Accounts and the Household Budget Survey. Data from research studies, market research institutes and Experts’ ratings are also used.
For the year 2016, the basket of goods and services contained 789 item eights at national level (at representative item level). After the revision in the year 2017 there will be 757 items. 
The latest weight period for COICOP is 2014 (National Accounts data t-2). For all the COICOP categories fixed annual weights are applied.

Computation of lowest-level indices
The ratio of geometric mean is used everywhere except for fruit, vegetables, best selling books and best selling CD’s, where the ratio of arithmetic average prices is used.

Treatment of missing items and replacements
Price observations are seldom missing, except for seasonal goods and services. On average there were 2% of seasonal missing prices in 2016. In COICOP 03 'clothing and footwear' there are the most seasonal missing prices with 7%. The product descriptions are usually wide enough for a replacement product to be found immediately in the outlet. If products are temporarily out of stock and the price label is available, the price collector may use this price.

The instruction requires price collectors to find a replacement immediately when a product offer is no longer available or not selling well. Replacements must be chosen as being within the compulsory product specifications, well-sold and 'easy-to-get' products. If the most-sold or 'easy-to-get' is unknown or several products have similar sales, then the 'most similar' product must be used instead. On average 4% of the product offers were replaced in 2016.

Introduction of newly significant goods and services
New products for HICP are introduced annually. Normally this is done in December, when one representative product is exchanged. New products are selected with respect to demand (turnover) and availability and are introduced every December. New models and varieties are implemented by replacement and potential quality adjustment as soon as they become relevant.

Treatment of price reductions
Price reductions and sales prices are systematically recorded, marked and reflected in the HICP. On average, 8% of the price observations are marked as reduced prices; in COICOP division 03 (clothing and footwear) there were 23% reduced prices in 2016.

Treatment of seasonal items
Where a price observation is missing for reasons of seasonal non-availability, all seasonal (17 products) and counter-seasonal estimation (42 products) are applied using fixed weights.
On the rare occasions when the above-described procedure would lead to non-availability of prices in the whole country (e.g. schools in summer or public baths in winter) the price is kept constant and included in the HICP.
All weights are kept constant for one year; there are no monthly varying weights. Time series are not seasonally adjusted.

18.6. Adjustment

Adjustment for quality differences
For quality adjustment, Austria uses a very elaborate system based on coding a replacement as S, Q0-Q4 or QZ. S means that there is no quality change and prices are then directly compared. For Q4 the full price difference is counted as a quality change and the index does not change. Q1, Q2 and Q3 mean that 25%, 50% and 75%, respectively, of the price difference is considered as quality and the reference price is adjusted accordingly. The Q0 code signifies that price and quality are moving in different directions and prices are then also compared directly, as in the S case. In 2016, 37% of the replacement cases (4%) were quality adjusted. The highest rate of quality adjustments is observable in COICOP 03 Clothing and Footwear, followed by 08 Telecommunication. There is no COICOP group without quality adjustments.

Main quality adjustment methods (in 2016 for both CPI and HICP)
01 Food and non-alcoholic beverages: linear package size adjustment, supported judgment for brand/ brandless and organic/ non-organic food
02 Alcoholic beverages, tobacco: linear package size adjustment
03 Clothing and footwear: supported judgment for brand/ brandless and for important features, in addition linear package size adjustment for underwear etc.
04 Housing, water, energy: very few adjustments in practice
05 Furnishings, household equipment and routine maintenance of the house: option prices and supported judgment for consumer durables
06 Health: linear package size adjustment for drugs, no adjustment otherwise
07 Transport: option price (50%) and fuel consumption adjustment for cars
08 Communications: option prices and supported judgment for durables, no quality adjustment for services
09 Recreation and culture: option prices and supported judgment, hedonic regressions for books and memory cards
10 Education: very few adjustments in practice
11 Restaurants and hotels: very few adjustments in practice
12 Miscellaneous goods and services: linear package size adjustment, supported judgment for brand/no-brand, option prices and supported judgment for services.

The QA made every month are reviewed and special cases are discussed in the section dealing with locally collected prices. If necessary, the rules are adapted or modified, usually as a result of 'difficult' cases.

19. Comment Top


Related metadata Top

Annexes Top