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How to Measure Government Productivity: A Review Article on 'Measurement of Government Output and Productivity for the National Accounts' (The Atkinson Report)


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  • Aled ab Iorwerth


The Atkinson Report examined measurement of public services' output and productivity. Traditionally, only inputs to the government sector were reflected in the National Accounts. This treatment imposed zero productivity growth for the government sector. From the late 1990s, the United Kingdom — in accordance with the recommendations of international standards — had started to introduce direct measures of government output. Rather than count the number of teachers, a measure of the education sector's output would include pupil attendance in schools, for example. Introducing these measures of government output had cast light on what the government sector produces and its productivity in doing so. Sir Tony Atkinson reviewed these methods and recommended improvements. The objectives of introducing direct measures of government output and the principles he advocated in undertaking this task are summarized in this review. As well as ensuring an important part of the economy is reflected in the National Accounts, introducing direct measures of government output into the National Accounts would allow policymakers to make more informed judgments and give greater information on the overall performance of government services.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Centre for the Study of Living Standards in its journal International Productivity Monitor.

Volume (Year): 13 (2006)
Issue (Month): (Fall)
Pages: 57-74

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Handle: RePEc:sls:ipmsls:v:13:y:2006:5

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Keywords: National Accounts; the Atkinson Report; Public service; Output measurement; Productivity; Direct measures of government output;

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  1. Christina Wang & Susanto Basu & John G. Fernald, 2004. "A general-equilibrium asset-pricing approach to the measurement of nominal and real bank output," Working Papers 04-7, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
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Cited by:
  1. Aled ab Iorwerth, 2013. "Mastering Leviathan: A Review Article on "Growing the Productivity of Government Services"," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 26, pages 94-107, Fall.
  2. Aled ab Iorwerth, 2012. "To Capture Production or Wellbeing? A Review Article on Towards Measuring the Volume Output of Education and Health Services: A Handbook," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 23, pages 55-70, Spring.


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