The Art and Craft of Compiling National Accounts Statistics and Their Implications for Reliability

29 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2009

See all articles by Frits Bos

Frits Bos

CPB Netherlands Bureau of Economic Policy Analysis

Abstract

This paper provides a systematic overview of the compilation and reliability of national accounts statistics. It illustrates the various issues with a wide range of examples and stories from national accounts compilation practice. National accounts statistics are estimates of a universal accounting model (SNA93). The operational versions of the model decide what is actually estimated. They are estimated by expanding and transforming the available data with accounting identities, assumptions, and plausibility checks. The estimates reflect personal knowledge and skills, resources, and policy. For a specific type of use, the universal and operational national accounting concepts are usually not perfect. The quantitative importance of such conceptual “measurement errors” is often overlooked but can be substantial. For assessing the reliability of national accounts statistics, sampling theory is not very important. The major methods are consistency checks, sensitivity analysis, and analysis using a description of the data sources, operational model, and compilation methods.

Suggested Citation

Bos, Frits, The Art and Craft of Compiling National Accounts Statistics and Their Implications for Reliability. Review of Income and Wealth, Vol. 55, Issue 4, pp. 930-958, December 2009, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1505738 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-4991.2009.00353.x

Frits Bos (Contact Author)

CPB Netherlands Bureau of Economic Policy Analysis ( email )

P.O. Box 80510
2508 GM The Hague, 2585 JR
Netherlands

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