Housing Depreciation in the Canadian CPI - ARCHIVED

Articles and reports: 62F0014M2001015


The Canadian Consumer Price Index (CPI) applies a version of the user cost approach to measure the cost of home ownership. Because this approach specifically estimates the costs of using owned accommodation and not those faced by tenants, the measure includes a "replacement cost" (or depreciation) component. Depreciation is the only component in the CPI that is not an out-of-pocket expense. Consequently, economists face a unique set of methodological challenges when measuring depreciation.

Between 1949 and 1997, the annual housing depreciation rate used in the CPI was 2%. Statistics Canada adopted the rate from a study that analysed U.S. Federal Housing Administration field appraisal data from 1939.

This study argues that there is evidence that the 2% depreciation rate is too high to continue to use in the future. Consider that: 1) other Canadian studies show an upper bound of 1.7%, with a median estimate of 1.5%; 2) other statistical agencies use lower rates; and 3) every academic study over the past 40 years has arrived at a lower rate. As a consequence of this study and the existing supporting evidence, the depreciation rate in the Canadian CPI was lowered to 1.5% effective January 1998.

Issue Number: 2001015
Author(s): Kostenbauer, Klaus

Main Product: Prices Analytical Series

FormatRelease dateMore information
PDFNovember 28, 2001