CPI vs PCE: Difference and Comparison

Governments all around the world use methods to measure the changes in prices of various consumer goods and services. CPI and PCE are two methods.

The former is a method to measure inflation that is commonly used throughout the world. On the other hand, the latter is used to measure the gaps between the changing prices of consumer goods.

Key Takeaways

  1. CPI measures the average price changes in a fixed basket of goods and services urban households consume.
  2. PCE measures the changes in prices of all goods and services purchased by households in the US.
  3. Policymakers more commonly use CPI than PCE.


The difference between CPI and PCE is that though both of the methods are used to understand consumer inflation, they give different weights to the prices of goods. They also differ in the formula they are based on. Though both of these processes have many thing things in common, they differ on significant points.


CPI is a method used by governments to understand the nature of inflation in each of the countries. Each country inspects various sets of data but uses a similar approach.

Economists decide the CPI of a month by comparing it to the CPI of the upcoming one. Then the prices of goods are fixed compared to the cost of living for an average family.

PCE is a similar method of measuring inflation. The full form of the term is Personal Consumer Expenditure.

This process deals with an individual’s expenses compared to the prices of goods and services. The various surveys done by different businesses are used in this method.

Comparison Table

  Parameters of Comparison CPIPCE
Full formConsumer Price IndexPersonal Consumer Expenditure
DefinitionThis process calculates inflation. All governments commonly use it throughout the world.This method is used to measure the rise in prices of everyday goods such as clothing, food, transport, entertainment etc. But this method involves only an individual.
BaseThis method is based on the formula of Laspeyres.PCE is based on the formula of Fisher-Ideal.
Governing bodyAll governments use this method.The United States uses this process.
PurposeThe CPI applies to a selected list of goods and services.The PCE is that parameter of measuring goods consumption, indicating whether a particular good has become expensive and it’s alternative.

What is CPI?

The CPI is a method commonly used by all governments to measure inflation. Economists use the comparison method to determine the CPI.

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This selected list is called a market basket. In every country, the types of goods and services are not the same, and the citizens in different countries have different consumption habits and weightings.

To analyse the Consumer Price Index, one needs to evaluate the prices of goods and services. However, it is to be remembered that the goods and services in the market increase and decrease.

Then the result would be multiplied by 100 to reach the correct number. In this light, it is to be informed that the CPI is not a percentage.

CPI helps us to provide a clear picture of inflation and how prices are changing, there are a few setbacks in this method. The ‘typical household’ used does not represent every household.

The market basket used in the CPI is based on purchases made by a typical household. The other drawback is that since the goods and services become more expensive.

People switch away from them. So the CPI can overstate inflation if people are consuming less due to price increases.

What is PCE?

PCE or Personal Consumption Expenditures refers to the changes in prices in various consumers. Goods and services in an individual’s household.

It is the most popular measurement of the prices of various consumer goods and services. It helps to decide the nature of consumers’ minds.

The PCE indicates what kind of goods every household purchases and how much money they spend. Education and entertainment are also two major aspects of this process.

Durable goods such as cars, appliances and other items that last for a long time and non-durable items like fuel fall into this category. The main difference between the CPI and the PCE.

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The latter measures how much money people spend daily, whereas the former shows how the prices of these everyday purchases change from month to month.

These consumptions involve purchases done by consumers in sectors like education, health, transport, clothing etc. The PCE majorly contributes to the economic progress of any country.

Main Differences Between the CPI and PCE

  1. The full form of CPI is Consumer Price Index, and PCE refers to Personal Consumer Expenditures.
  2. The CPI evaluates the average prices of various consumer goods and services. On the other hand, the PCE is the measurement of expenditures of how much money is spent on everyday purchases.
  3. The method of CPI is calculated using the formula of Laspeyres, and the PCE is based on the Fisher-Ideal method.
  4. The CPI indicates the changes in the prices of consumer goods and services. On the other hand, the PCE refers to the total amount of money spent by households on final goods and services like food, clothing etc.
  5. The method of CPI measures the change in prices of goods and services. The PCE reveals how much households spend money on their immediate purchases.
  1. https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/jep.12.1.3
  2. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=357342

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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11 thoughts on “CPI vs PCE: Difference and Comparison”

  1. CPI and PCE are two popular methods used to measure inflation consistently throughout different countries. They help understand consumer inflation at different levels of analysis.

  2. The process of measuring inflation through the CPI and PCE methods involves a high level of accuracy and precision. It’s interesting how these methods have different applications within the economic landscape.

  3. Understanding the nature of inflation and the changing prices of goods is crucial in shaping economic policies. Consumer Price Index and Personal Consumer Expenditure are vital components of this analysis.

    • Absolutely, the nuances between CPI and PCE are essential for deepening our understanding of consumer behavior and economic trends.

  4. The comprehensive understanding of the CPI and PCE processes is crucial for policymakers and economists to develop accurate assessments and informed strategies in the financial and economic domains.

  5. CPI and PCE measurements play a significant role in understanding economic fluctuations and consumer spending patterns. They form an important foundation for economic analyses and policy-making decisions.

  6. The differences in the parameters and methodologies of CPI and PCE are pivotal in crafting comprehensive economic policies. It’s fascinating how the intricate details influence the larger economic landscape.

  7. The nuanced differences between the CPI and PCE methods provide valuable insights into consumer purchasing behavior. These differences are essential in understanding the economic changes that occur over time.

  8. The differences between CPI and PCE are crucial for policymakers to make informed decisions when developing economic strategies. It’s an approach based on real-life consumption patterns.


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