Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

General

What is the HICP?

The Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices, abbreviated as 'HICP', is a consumer price index that is produced by each European Union Member State using a harmonised methodology, as defined in Regulation (EU) 2016/792. These indices are directly comparable between countries and can be aggregated. The aim is to provide a high-quality and comparable measure of consumer price inflation.

The HICP serves two main purposes:

  • It is used as an indicator for assessing price convergence with regard to a possible accession of a country to the monetary union;

  • It is a measure of price stability for the European Central Bank's (ECB) monetary policy strategy. The Governing Council of the ECB has defined price stability in terms of the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) for the euro area.

In addition, like any other consumer price index the HICP is used for economic analyses and indexing contracts.

Further information can be found in the HICP dedicated section on Eurostat's website.

What are the main differences between the HICP and the national CPI?

The HICP follows a harmonised methodology that allows for cross-country comparisons to serve specific needs in the context of the economic and monetary union. The HICP is designed to assess price stability and is not intended to be a cost of living index.

National CPIs were set up to serve different national purposes. For that reason, some of the underlying concepts and methods of national CPIs may deviate from the requirements for the HICP which is designed to measure inflation in the euro area and the European Union (meaning changes over time in the prices of consumer goods and services acquired by households).

HICP data are published by Eurostat, while national CPIs are published by National Statistical Institutes.

What is the HICP flash estimate?

The flash estimate is an early provisional estimate of the euro area HICP. It is usually released on the last working day of the month to which the flash estimate refers; the release dates are published in the Release schedule.

Eurostat computes the flash estimate for the euro area using preliminary data received from the National Statistical Institutes of the euro area Member States.

For further information on the methodology used for the computation of the estimates, please consult the Statistics Explained pages on inflation.

What are the release dates of the HICP?

The full HICP dataset is released approximately 16 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 (i.e. European Union, euro area and European Economic Area).

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

The HICP release dates can be found on the Eurostat website in the release calendar for the Euro indicators and in the HICP release schedule.

What is HICP at constant tax rates (HICP-CT)?

The Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices at constant tax rates (HICP-CT) is a variant of the HICP that measures inflation without the impact of changes in taxes on products, such as value added tax (VAT), excise duties, etc. It thus helps to assess the contribution to inflation of changes in taxes on products.

More information can be found on the page dedicated to Methodology — HICP at constant tax rates.

How are administered prices defined?

Administered prices (AP) are prices that are either directly set or significantly influenced by a government (central/ local government, national regulators or supervising authorities). Currently, administered prices are defined at ECOICOP (European Classification of Individual Consumption according to Purpose) 4-digit level; in the future this will change to the 5-digit level. The EU Member States classify these ECOICOP sub-indices as 'mainly', 'fully' or 'not at all' administered according to their national circumstances.

More information: HICP — administered prices.

Can I use data published by Eurostat?

Yes, Eurostat data can be reused free of charge. Please consult our copyright notice.

How is the HICP being calculated in the context of the COVID-19 crisis?

Information on the compilation of the HICP during the COVID-19 crisis is available in the HICP methodology page.

Eurostat has also set up a centralised methodological corner with notes and guidelines regarding the handling of the COVID-19 crisis.

Coverage

How is the HICP consumer basket defined?

The HICP is published for all categories of the European classification of individual consumption according to purpose (ECOICOP).

The ECOICOP is a hierarchical classification that covers all products that need to be included in the HICP, as specified in Regulation (EU) 2016/792  (Annex I). The Member States have to produce an index for all categories of ECOICOP for which the consumption is above 1/1000 of total household final monetary consumption expenditure of the country. For these categories, the National Statistical Institutes select their own 'national' basket of representative products (consisting of goods and services) whose prices they follow in their HICP.

For more information, please see 'Where can I find product weights?'

What are the products categories covered by the HICP?

The 12 main categories of products included in the HICP are:

01 - Food
02 - Alcohol and tobacco
03 - Clothing
04 - Housing
05 - Household equipment
06 - Health
07 - Transport
08 - Communication
09 - Recreation and culture
10 - Education
11 - Hotels and restaurants
12 - Miscellaneous.

These 12 ECOICOP divisions (2-digit) are then broken down into groups (3-digit), classes (4-digit) and sub-classes (5-digit).

In the HICP news releases, the short labels (2-digits) are used.

Which products are not covered by the HICP?

The HICP is designed to be a measure of pure price change for goods and services falling within the scope of household final monetary consumption expenditure on the economic territory of each country. It is essential for the HICP that it refers to monetary transactions only.

The HICP does not cover any products that are not part of household final monetary consumer expenditure. Moreover, some expenditure categories are excluded due to operational issues related to price collection or because no harmonised method of treatment exists yet. Consequently, the following ECOICOP categories are not covered by the HICP:

  • 02.3 Narcotics
  • 04.2 Imputed rentals for housing
  • 09.4.3 Games of chance
  • 12.2 Prostitution
  • 12.5.1 Life insurance
  • 12.5.3.1 Public insurance connected with health
  • 12.6.1 Financial intermediation services indirectly measured

What is the geographic coverage of the HICP?

In accordance with Council Regulation (EC) No 1688/98, each Member State is required to produce a harmonised index of consumer prices (HICP) starting in January 1997. The HICP covers the EU Member States as well as several other countries that provide HICP data to Eurostat such as the EFTA countries (Iceland, Norway and Switzerland), EU candidate countries (Turkey and Serbia) and the United States of America.

Data

Data availability and historical data

Where can I find…? (Quick links)

What data are available to the public?

The data published are the following:

Monthly data

How can I access the HICP data?

The HICP data are available via Eurostat's website under Statistics by Theme / Economy and Finance / Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices. When extracting HICP data from the database, it might be necessary to change some pre-defined dimensions such as the time series (TIME), geopolitical entity (GEO) and in the 'Classification' the expenditure groups according to ECOICOP/HICP and special aggregates. An explanation how to make an extraction can be found here ('demo tours' webpage).

How can I access the Administered Prices data?

Administered Prices aggregates can be found in the HICP database, at the bottom of the 'classification' list.

The available aggregates are:

  • Administered prices (AP);
  • Fully administered prices (APF);
  • Mainly administered prices (APM);
  • All-items excluding administered prices (TOT_X_AP);
  • All-items excluding fully administered prices (TOT_X_APF) and
  • All-items excluding mainly administered prices (TOT_X_APM).

Since when have the HICP indices been compiled?

The HICP series have been compiled since January 1996 and were published for the first time in March 1997.

More information can be found under the HICP metadata, under point 12.3 Completness.

What is the index reference period for the HICP?

The index reference period is the period for which the index value is set to 100.

The HICP and HICP-CT series are published with reference year 2015, i.e. 2015=100. Eurostat provides the complete HICP series also in the reference years 2005 and 1996. These data are included in the HICP dataset 'Monthly data' (index) (code: prc_hicp_midx). By default, the reference year 2015 is shown. Reference years 2005 or 1996 can be selected under the tab 'Unit'.

For more information on re-referencing, see this document and the summary table of data revisions due to re-referencing.

Country-group aggregates

Special Aggregates

The HICP follows the Sign InECOICOP (European Classification of Individual Consumption according to Purpose) classification. To allow for an analytically enhanced presentation of consumer price developments, a set of special aggregates has been developed.

What special aggregates exist and what do they comprise?

Eurostat calculates over 30 HICP special aggregates. A full list of the aggregates and their components is available on the Eurostat classification's server RAMON.

Rounding

With how many decimals are the HICP published?

All rates derived from the HICP are published with one decimal.

The underlying indices for the aggregates and for most countries are published with two decimals. Czechia, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Poland, the United Kingdom, Norway, Switzerland and Serbia publish indices with one decimal only due to their national data publication policy.

Revisions

Are HICP data revised?

The HICP can be revised at any point in time, according to Commission Regulation (EC) No 1921/2001 on revisions.

Some examples of revisions of the HICP data resulting from methodological changes were registered with the introduction of seasonal items in 2011, of weights in 2012 and the re-referencing from 2005=100 to 2015=100.

In 2019, a methodological change for the package holidays data for Germany resulted in revisions on previously published data. Further information on the change can be found here.

Are HICP weights revised?

Weights are updated yearly and are not revised. It is however possible to correct mistakes in the weights data, as stated in Article 3(5) of Commission Regulation (EU) No 1114/2010

Where can I find unrevised HICP data?

To find the HICP data as originally published on the day of release, please see:

  • Eurostat database: HICP 'First published data' (prc_hicp_fp), for data starting from January 2016
  • Publications: 'Data in Focus', for data until January 2016

Where can I find the 'Data in Focus' publication?

The 'Data in Focus' monthly publication was discontinued in January 2016 and replaced by the HICP dataset 'First published data' (prc_hicp_fp).

Issues from June 2014 to December 2015 (with reference year 2005 = 100) can be found in the HICP dedicated section. The complete archive of 'Data in Focus' can be found on CIRCABC.

Flags

What is the meaning of the flags attached to some HICP figures?

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 if 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 = low reliability.

b = break in time series.

: = not available.

Computation

HICP computation

What is the HICP?

The HICP is computed as annually chain-linked Laspeyres-type index, currently with the index reference year 2015=100. The chain-linking is done each year using the month of December as the linking month. Chain indices are used because to take into account annual changes in weights for countries and products. For more detailed information, please see the Statistics Explained article on HICP methodology (under revision).

What is a Laspeyres-type index?

The HICP is a Laspeyres-type index. Laspeyres-type index means the price index that measures the average change in prices between the price reference period and a comparison period using expenditure shares from a period prior to the price reference period. The expenditure shares are adjusted to reflect the prices of the price reference period.

A Laspeyres-type index is defined as:

Laspeyres-type index formula

The price of a product is denoted by p, the price reference period is denoted by 0 and the comparison period is denoted by t. Weights (w) are expenditure shares of a period (b) prior to the price reference period and are adjusted to reflect the prices of the price reference period 0.

Index reference period means the period for which the index is set to 100 index points.

The actual weights for the period t-1 cannot be observed early enough (they are needed in February) in the year t. Hence, the weight estimations have to be based on preliminary data for the year t-2.

Why can I not reproduce the same HICP index when I calculate it myself?

This may be due to rounding. Member States typically transmit indices with more decimal places to Eurostat than the data published. The European aggregates and their sub-indices are computed by Eurostat from unrounded national figures and published with one or two decimals only, depending on the country. If you calculate the geographical aggregates from the publically available rounded figures, you may obtain a different result for the index and the rates. For more detailed information, please see the Statistics Explained article on HICP methodology.

Rate of change computation

How is the annual rate of change calculated?

An annual rate measures the change of the index between the current month and the same month of the previous year.

Annual rate of change (%) for the year t and Index I:

For example:

How is the monthly rate of change calculated?

A monthly rate measures the change of the index between the current month and the previous month. Monthly rate of change (%) for the month m and Index I:

For example:

How is the 12-month average rate of change calculated?

The annual average rates of change are obtained directly from the series based on the unrounded annual average indices. For more details, please see the formula below.

12-month average rate of change (%) for the 12-months period that starts in the month m and ends in month m+11 and Index I :

For example:

How is the annual average rate calculated?

The annual average index is the sum of the twelve monthly indices (with one decimal) of one year divided by twelve.

Annual average index for the year y and Index I:

For example:

Annual average rate of change (%) for the year y and Index I:

For example:

Aggregation procedure

What is the procedure for the aggregation of indices?

As the HICP is computed as a chain-linked Laspeyres-type index, the aggregation of products is as follows:

  1. The series (indices) need to be unchained by dividing the value of each month by the value of the previous December.
  2. The series have to be aggregated by computing the weighted arithmetical average. That is, multiplying each unchained monthly value computed in step 1 with its weight and dividing the result by the sum of the weights of the products to be aggregated.
  3. Afterwards, the result obtained in step 2 needs to be chain-linked. This is done by multiplying the value of the aggregate of the previous December with the result obtained in step 2.

What is the procedure for the aggregation of country-groups?

The procedure for the aggregation of country-groups is very similar to the aggregation of products described in the previous question ('What is the procedure for the aggregation of indices?'). Only the second step, which consists of the aggregation of the unchained series, differs: the unchained monthly figures need to be multiplied by both the product weights and country weights.

Weights

Where can I find the weight for a specific Member State (country weights)?

The HICP country weights are available in the Eurostat database (dataset: prc_hicp_cow). The country weights are updated yearly. Information about each aggregate can be found in the dataset 'prc_hicp_cow'.

How are the product weights computed?

Product or 'item' weights at the level of ECOICOP (European Classification of Individual Consumption according to Purpose) divisions (2-digit), groups (3-digit), classes (4-digit) and sub-classes (5-digit) represent a share of households final monetary consumption expenditure for each product for a specific population and geographical area. The product weights are derived from national accounts and household budget surveys. For more information, please see the Statistics Explained article on HICP methodology  (under revision) and the Commission Regulation (EC) No 1114/2010 on weights.

Regulation (EU) 1114/2010 brought changes to the 1997 weights regulation and set down new minimum standards for weights. A note on the implementation of this regulation summarising previous practices and the impact of the change in methodology can be found in this information note.

Where can I obtain the product weights?

HICP product weights are available in the Eurostat database (dataset: prc_hicp_inw). These weights correspond to the ECOICOP (European Classification of Individual Consumption according to Purpose) 5-digit level (sub-classes).