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GDP and Beyond: Measuring Economic Progress and Sustainability

  • J. Steven Landefeld
  • Shaunda M. Villones

    (Bureau of Economic Analysis)

The United States possesses some of the most highly developed sets of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) accounts in the world. These accounts are collectively known as the National Income Product and Wealth Accounts or National Accounts. However, since their inception in the 1930s, the economy has continuously evolved. Issues have been raised about the scope and structure of the national accounts, limitations of focusing on market activities, and the contributions of investments in human capital and natural resources to economic growth. More recently, there are concerns about the adequacy of the national accounts in capturing the differential impact of the current recession, and the failure of the existing national accounts to provide adequate warning about the imbalances that developed in housing and financial markets. This article explores each of these issues and relates them to the need for expanded or supplementary measures for the national accounts, highlighting what such estimates might reveal relative to the conventional statistics presented by GDP and other aggregate statistics from the accounts.

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Paper provided by Bureau of Economic Analysis in its series BEA Working Papers with number 0052.

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Date of creation: Sep 2009
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Handle: RePEc:bea:wpaper:0052
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  1. Simon Kuznets & Lillian Epstein & Elizabeth Jenks, 1946. "National Income and Its Composition, 1919-1938, Volume II," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kuzn41-3.
  2. Michael G. Palumbo & Jonathan A. Parker, 2009. "The Integrated Financial and Real System of National Accounts for the United States: Does It Presage the Financial Crisis?," NBER Working Papers 14663, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Dale Jorgenson & J. Steven Landefeld & William D. Nordhaus, 2006. "A New Architecture for the U.S. National Accounts," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number jorg06-1.
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