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the price to be paid for a miracle come true: all over the world, very incomplete, imperfect, heterogeneous and partly outdated data are to be transformed into complete, consistent, internationally standardized and up-to-date overviews of the national economies and their major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

Item Type: MPRA Paper -

Institution: CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis-

Original Title: Compiling the national accounts demystified-

Language: English-

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

Subjects: E - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics > E6 - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook > E60 - GeneralC - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods > C8 - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology ; Computer Programs > C82 - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Macroeconomic Data ; Data Access-

Author: Bos, Frits



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