The Integration of the Canadian Productivity Accounts within the System of National Accounts: Current Status and Challenges Ahead
In: A New Architecture for the U.S. National Accounts
A statistical agency faces several challenges in building Productivity Accounts. Measures of productivity require that outputs be compared to inputs. During the last forty years, data users in the economics profession have requested an increasingly sophisticated set of productivity measures. What started out as a request for simple ratios of output to employment has moved to a demand for multifactor (total factor) productivity measures that take into account both labour and capital inputs, the compositional changes in both, and price corrections for the changing quality of outputs. The challenge that faces users of productivity measures is that many series often exist within statistical agencies that can be used on an ad hoc basis by outsiders to generate productivity estimates; however, these series often generate conflicting estimates. Only by pulling together data into one coherent consistent framework can the statistical agency solve the problem of 'multiple' stories. This can be done by developing a set of Productivity Accounts that are part of an integrated system of National Accounts. Creating a set of integrated productivity accounts provides a challenge to a statistical agency. Data on outputs and inputs have to be created that are comprehensive in terms of industry coverage, but also that have adequate quality. Labour estimates have to be created that are consistent with the definitions of the SNA but that are also consistent at the industry level with key estimates contained in the National Accounts (e.g., labour income). Investment and capital stock data need to be collected that can be allocated to industries and are consistent with the commodity structure of input/output tables. This paper discusses the challenges that a statistical agency faces in this area -as illustrated by the Canadian experience. First, it examines the progress that has been made in developing a system that integrates the Productivity Accounts into the overall System of National A
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