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I'm writing a speech, which has a sentence to the effect of:

Even as COVID-19 continues to cause people to leave the region for cheaper pastures, resulting decreases in expected salary for remote work often underestimate actual decreases in cost of living.

I'm trying to express that one quantity follows another — in this case salaries and cost of living, respectively — but the former often doesn't follow the latter to quite the same magnitude.

Here's a phrase from the sentence above, and a few possible rewordings to better specify the meaning I'm looking for:

decreases in expected salary often underestimate actual decreases in cost of living

as cost of living decreases, so does expected salary, but not as much

as expected salary falls following cost of living, it doesn't decrease to quite the same degree

Non-words that approximate the meaning I'm looking for are:

  • underproportionalize
  • underfollow
  • lagproportion

Trails gets close, but indicates time lag rather than "underproportionalizing".

Is there a word for this, or something close?

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    It sounds like you're set on a verb, but if not, have you rejected the use of disproportionate?
    – livresque
    Oct 22, 2020 at 1:40
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    @livresque It hadn't crossed my mind that I was implicitly focussed on verbs. That would be a good answer if you would add it as one :) Oct 22, 2020 at 4:03
  • @KannE Fixed that typo :) Oct 22, 2020 at 7:08
  • Your own term underestimate works well here.
    – Lawrence
    Oct 22, 2020 at 7:16
  • I'd use 'fall short of'. Oct 22, 2020 at 16:28

1 Answer 1

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If you're going for verbs, it sounds like skew or undercut would point to the inaccuracy of misleading information and the resulting distortion. Another fitting term would be disproportionate.

From your speech,

decreases in expected salary often skew actual decreases in cost of living

Skew v. 2. Make biased or distorted in a way that is regarded as inaccurate, unfair, or misleading. (Lexico)

as cost of living decreases, so does expected salary, but disproportionately so

Disproportionate: Too large or too small in comparison with something else. (Lexico)

as expected salary falls following cost of living, this decreases at a disproportionate rate

In this sense, understate would work just as well in your first sentence, as well as misconstrue, trivialize, underemphasize, and other synonyms for underestimate.

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