Consumption Pyramids fills a serious gap in the official Indian statistical system. It delivers fast-frequency data on consumption expenditure of households.
Consumption Pyramids delivers a monthly series of household consumption expenditure and snapshots of weekly expenses on select fast-moving expense items. With a large sample of households this becomes a potent resource to understand the changes in household consumption expenditure and the changes in the structure of these expenses.
This is in sharp contrast to the official surveys on household consumption expenditure, that are too few and far in between. They also have the tendency of being rejected by the government and remaining unavailable to researchers and other users alike. The last survey for which data is available is 2011-12. In contrast, Consumption Pyramids delivers monthly data regularly with a lag of just four months.
Fast frequency data on consumption expenditure of households
Nevertheless, there are important differences between the surveys conducted by the National Sample Survey Organisation and by Consumption Pyramids. The latter fills in a gap but, it is no replacement to the NSSO survey.
The Consumer Pyramids Household Survey focuses on two questions. First, how much do households spend, in rupee terms, on consumption expenditure and second, what is the broad distribution of this spend.
The first objective requires that the survey should not miss any significant expense head independent of any value judgement associated with the expense. For example, non-food expenses are not any less important than food expenses. Similarly, the focus is on rupee spends and not on its disaggregation into quantity and price of the purchases. It is similarly not important whether the specific purchases are made from the public distribution system or from the open markets. The focus is on how much is spent by households on consumption expenditure.
The second objective is met by ensuring that all the major heads of expenses are well-covered. Over 140 expense heads are covered. Of these, 39 are food items and the remaining are non-food expenditure items. Non-food expenses include services.
Consumption Pyramids also provides snapshots of weekly expenses on 27 items on which expenses are made with faster frequency. Such snapshots are available thrice in a year. Weekly recall of these is much better. As a result, the Consumer Pyramids dataset also delivers adjusted monthly expenses of these 27 expenditure items.
A subscription to Consumption Pyramids requires a co-terminus subscription to People of India as well.
The database contains information on monthly expense of 39 food itemsand 110 non-food items. It also contains weekly expense information on 18 fooditems of the 39 food items and 9 out of 110 non-food items.
The 39 food items include whole-grain cereals, pulses, edible oils,vegetables, fruits, potatoes onions, tea, coffee, jam/pickle/ketchup,sweeteners, bread, milk milk-products, meat/eggs fish, biscuits, namkeen saltysnacks, chocolates/cakes ice-creams, etc.
This service also gives information on size of household, dominantbroad occupation type of the household and Age and gender group that mostmembers of a household belong to.
Monthly expenses are collected for the four months that immediatelypreceded the month of the survey and weekly expenses are collected for the weekthat preceded the date of the survey.