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Compiling the national accounts demystified

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  • Bos, Frits

Abstract

This paper unveils the mystery of national accounts statistics. National accounts statistics are not facts. They are estimates of a universal accounting model (SNA93) for describing, analyzing and managing national economies. The operational versions of the universal model decide what is actually estimated. They are estimated by expanding and transforming the available data with accounting identities, tested and untested assumptions and previous estimates. The estimates reflect skills, resources and compilation policy. The resulting differences in the reliability of the national accounts statistics are to a great extent the price to be paid for a miracle come true: all over the world, very incomplete, imperfect, heterogeneous and partly outdated data are to be transformed into complete, consistent, internationally standardized and up-to-date overviews of the national economies and their major components. Nevertheless, compiling the national accounts can be improved in various ways, but this requires an international long-term strategy.

Suggested Citation

  • Bos, Frits, 2007. "Compiling the national accounts demystified," MPRA Paper 3736, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:3736
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/3736/1/MPRA_paper_3736.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Magnus, Jan R & van Tongeren, Jan W & de Vos, Aart F, 2000. "National Accounts Estimation Using Indicator Ratios," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 46(3), pages 329-350, September.
    2. Bos, Frits, 1992. "Reasons for Preferring Net to Gross Figures of Income and Product (and Vice Versa)," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 38(3), pages 267-279, September.
    3. Maki, Atsushi & Nishiyama, Shigeru, 1993. "Consistency between Macro- and Micro-data Sets in the Japanese Household Sector," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 39(2), pages 195-207, June.
    4. van Bergeijk, Peter A G, 1995. "The Accuracy of International Economic Observations," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 1-20, January.
    5. Novak, George J, 1975. "Reliability Criteria for National Accounts," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 21(3), pages 323-344, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bos, Frits, 2009. "The National Accounts as a Tool for Analysis and Policy; History, Economic Theory and Data Compilation Issues," MPRA Paper 23582, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    National accounts; data compilation; reliability of national accounts statistics; measurement in economics;

    JEL classification:

    • E60 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - General
    • C82 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Macroeconomic Data; Data Access

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