National Accounts   |   Statistics Division

Latest Data Upload: December 2013
 

Introduction

The National Accounts Main Aggregates Database presents a series of analytical national accounts tables from 1970 onwards for more than 200 countries and areas of the world. It is the product of a global cooperation effort between the Economic Statistics Branch of the United Nations Statistics Division, international statistical agencies and the national statistical services of these countries and is developed in accordance with the recommendation of the Statistical Commission at its first session in 1947 that the Statistics Division should publish regularly the most recent available data on national accounts for as many countries and areas as possible. The database is updated in December of each year with newly available national accounts data for all countries and areas.

 

Methodology for Data Estimation

Annual collections of the official national accounts data reported to the United Nations Statistics Division by the countries in form of the United Nations National Accounts Questionnaires serve as the basis for the database. A basic description of the methodology related to the compilation of official national accounts data is provided in National Accounts Statistics: Main Aggregates and Detailed Tables. For full details on the 1968, 1993 or 2008 SNA, please visit the SNA website.

If a full set of official data is not reported for a specific country, estimation procedures are employed to obtain estimates for the entire time series. For estimation purposes, other data sources are analysed to gather supplementary data on the national accounts of a country. The data gathered are then either used directly or estimation procedures are applied to obtain a complete and consistent set of time series of main national accounts aggregates and their related growth rates and indices. As official data are not always available for use in the database, the sources and methods used for estimations should be taken into consideration. Metadata for each country describing the methods and sources used for all data included in the database are available via the Meta-Data link.

Once the national accounts data in national currency are complete, the current and constant price series are converted into US Dollars by applying the corresponding market exchange rates as reported by the IMF. When these conversion rates are not available other IMF rates are used (official rates or principal rates).

For countries whose exchange rates are not reported by the IMF, the annual average of United Nations operational rates of exchange (UNOPs) is applied. The UNOPs are conversion rates that are applied in official transactions of the United Nations with these countries. These exchange rates are based on official, commercial and/or tourist rates of exchange.

In cases where a country experiences considerable distortion in the conversion rates, the United Nations Statistics Division uses price-adjusted rates of exchange (PARE) as an alternative to the exchange rates reported by the IMF or UN operational rates of exchange. The conversion based on PARE corrects the distorting effects of uneven price changes that are not well reflected in the other conversion rates. Consequently, unrealistic levels in GDP and other national accounts aggregates expressed in US Dollars may have been adjusted for certain time periods to improve the economic analysis at national, regional and local levels.

It should be noted that the international comparability of data expressed in US Dollars between countries may not be entirely justified because the exchange rates applied may, in practice, only be used for the conversion of a limited number of external transactions and may not be relevant for the much larger portion of GDP covering domestic transactions.

For more detail on the methodology for data estimation please see the information in the following PDF document.

 
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