Aftershocks from a Revolution: Ordinal Utility and Cost-of-Living Indexes



This essay argues that beneath the superficial linearity of the history of neoclassical price index theory lie important conceptual ruptures that are linked to the ordinal revolution, including a radical transformation in the core objective for cost-of-living indexes. Revealing these ruptures produces a more accurate history of both the development of neoclassical price index theory and its reception. Furthermore, we can recognize how transformations in this theory have made cost-of-living indexes more coherent with existing traditions of empirical macroeconomics even as they may have reduced the indexes’ suitability for other functions, notably adjusting income payments.


Attribute NameValues
  • Thomas A. Stapleford

Journal or Work Title
  • Journal of the History of Economic Thought

  • 33

  • 2

First Page
  • 187

Last Page
  • 222

Publication Date
  • 2011

  • Cost-of-Living Indexes

  • History of Economics

Date Created
  • 2017-01-10

Bibliographic Citation
  • English

Related Resource(s)
Departments and Units
Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Digital Object Identifier


This DOI is the best way to cite this article.


Please Note: You may encounter a delay before a download begins. Large or infrequently accessed files can take several minutes to retrieve from our archival storage system.