In recent years a debate has raged about the accuracy of the cost-of-living index. A major bone of contention regards capturing the changes in the quality of goods. Were it easy to measure quality, disputes about the magnitude of the change would have not arisen. The difficulty in pinpointing quality is not merely an academic or policy question; it also poses a major problem for exchange. When the quality of the exchanged commodities is uncertain, costly disputes about what one gives and the other receives are bound to arise. Such disputes are a matter of property rights, of who owns what.


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