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Compiling the national accounts demystified

  • Bos, Frits

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the price to be paid for a miracle come true: all over the world, very incomplete, imperfect, heterogeneous and partly outdated data are to be transformed into complete, consistent, internationally standardized and up-to-date overviews of the national economies and their major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.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 3736.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:3736
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  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 329-50, September.
  2. 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 323-44, September.
  3. 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 267-79, September.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
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