Growth and productivity measures: documentation of statistics
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Basic data of the statistics
National accounts data concern all data produced and disseminated for an economy according to the definitions and guidelines of the European System of Accounts (ESA 2010).
The national accounts provide data for the total economy but also include breakdowns of the total economy (into sectors,
industries, products, regions, etc.). The national accounts include data from several different statistics: annual and quarterly national accounts (main aggregates), sector accounts, financial accounts, supply and use tables as well as input-output tables, regional accounts, productivity (work, capital and total productivity) and general government.
The data in the statistics on productivity surveys are likewise provided by industry and sector. The statistics describe the development of the productivity of work and total productivity in the Finnish economy on the level of the whole economy and different industries.
One of the main aggregates of national accounts is gross domestic product (GDP) from which the impact of price changes has been eliminated. It describes the economic development of a country or region. It is also referred to as the economic growth rate or percentage. The productivity of work in the statistics on productivity surveys is measured as GDP calculated per working hour or, in more precise terms, as value added. The statistics examine the impact that inputs (labour and capital) have on the development of value added and labour productivity. The statistics are compiled by applying the growth accounting method, in which both production and primary inputs are measured as logarithmic change rates.
National accounts are exhaustive. This means that all resident statistical units are covered.
An institutional unit is an economic entity characterised by decision-making autonomy in the exercise of its principal function. A resident unit is regarded as constituting an institutional unit in the economic territory where it has its centre of predominant economic interest if it has decision-making autonomy and either keeps a complete set of accounts, or is able to compile a complete set of accounts.
A local KAU groups all the parts of an institutional unit in its capacity as producer, which are located in a single site or in closely located sites, and which contribute to the performance of an activity at the class level (four digits) of the NACE Rec.2.
An institutional unit comprises one or more local KAUs; a local KAU belongs to one and only one institutional unit.
Unit of measure
Under the ESA 2010 system, all flows and stocks are measured in monetary terms, either in euro or in national currencies. Only some demographic-related and labour-related variables, expressed in terms of persons, hours or jobs, are exempted. Flows and stocks must be measured according to their exchange value, i.e. the value at which flows and stocks are in fact, or could be, exchanged for cash. Market prices are, thus, the ESA’s reference for valuation.
In addition to measurement in current (market) prices, some national accounts variables are also expressed in the preceding year’s prices and chain-linked volumes, see Section 3.9. Furthermore, it is possible to derive growth rates and indices, and various other measures (e.g. percentages, per capita data, data expressed in purchasing power standards) can be applied as well.
Two basic kinds of information are recorded: flows and stocks. ‘Flows’ refer to actions and effects of events that take place within a given period of time, while ‘stocks’ refer to positions at a point of time (usually the beginning or the end of a year or quarter).
Concerning the institutional sector breakdown, ESA 2010 distinguishes five mutually exclusive domestic institutional sectors: (a) non-financial corporations; (b) financial corporations; (c) general government; (d) households; (e) non-profit institutions serving households. The five sectors together make up the total domestic economy. Each sector is also divided into subsectors.
The sector breakdown in the productivity surveys is not as precise as in national accounts. There are only two sectors: private and public. The S1Y class includes sector categories S11, S12, S14 and S15 and the S1J category includes S13. The sector for the rest of the world, S2, remains outside the scope of the statistics.
Regarding the activity breakdown, ESA 2010 applies NACE Rev.2. Activities can be broken down into several levels of detail, for example into groups encompassing 3, 10, 21, 38, 64 or 88 activities. At the ‘highest’ level a breakdown into three categories is defined: (a) agriculture, forestry and fishing; (b) mining and quarrying, manufacturing, electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply, water supply, sewerage, waste management and remediation activities, construction; (c) services.
At its most detailed, the productivity survey uses the level of 63 activities, meaning that the statistics cover the industries of the Standard Industrial Classification (TOL 2008) on the 2-digit level. It should be noted that not all sector (S1Y/S1J)/industry (TOL 2008 2-digit) combinations exist for all variables.
Given that the statistics on productivity surveys use the employment statistics as a source, the use also applies to the classifications of occupations and education.
In general, the ESA 2010 transmission programme requires data to start from 1995 (years) and 1995Q1 (quarters) but some series can start later. If backwards data exist, they may have been compiled according to earlier versions of ESA and can present conceptual breaks with those compiled under ESA 2010.
Frequency of dissemination
When compensations of labour force are deducted from the industry's value added, capital compensation remains. When examining the effect of capital services on productivity, the amount of capital compensations is used for calculating weights of capital good types by industry (cf. compensations of labour force). The amount of compensations of capital is also used in the calculation of the internal rate of return.
The employment statistics data starting from 1975 have been used in evaluating the labour composition. The data are divided into the above-mentioned categories. A specific weight is determined for each category by utilising average wages and salaries in the category (assuming that wages and salaries describe the marginal productivity of the labour force). One category consists of, say, highly educated women aged 30 to 54, who, by their age and education, can be assumed to earn more than a man with upper secondary level education aged under 30, for example. If the relative share of highly educated people, for example, grows inside the total labour input or if the relative pay of the highly educated rises, this is visible as growth in the labour composition term.
Consumption of fixed capital should be distinguished from the depreciation shown in business accounts. It refers to the amount of fixed assets used up during the period under consideration. It should be estimated on the basis of the stock of fixed assets and the probable average economic life of the different capital goods.
Primary inputs – capital and labour – can be further broken into sub-items. In productivity calculations the contributions have been separately calculated for ICT and RD assets, machinery and equipment, residential buildings and other capital resources. The effects of hours worked and the contribution of labour composition are separated from labour input.
The most precise productivity survey calculations are made for 63 industries. Value added, labour productivity, contribution of capital and labour force to productivity and multifactor productivity are calculated for each industry. After this, industry-specific data are aggregated with value added weights to less detailed levels and afterwards to the level of the whole economy.
Products used for intermediate consumption should be recorded and valued at the time they enter the process of production. They are to be valued at the purchasers’ prices for similar goods or services at that time.
Multi-factor productivity can be calculated based on value added or output. It is derived when the effects of contributions of capital and labour force are deducted from value added (or output). If the calculation is based on the output method, the effect of intermediate consumption is also deducted.
The calculation formula for multifactor productivity changes into form: ?multifactor productivity?_output=change in output-(contribution of capital +contribution of labour + contribution of intermediate consumption)
The profitable capital stock used in productivity calculations differs from that used in national accounts. It measures the capital services provided by the capital stock. The amount of capital services describes better the capital stock than the production capacity of capital and corresponds to other factors of the production function.
Accuracy, reliability and timeliness
The ESA 2010 transmission programme defines the required timeliness for all national accounts tables. Quarterly tables should become available between two or three months after the quarter-end. The annual tables have to be transmitted between two months (main aggregates) and 36 months (supply and use tables) after the end of the reference year.
In Finland, some statistics of national accounts are produced faster than the transmission programme. These include
annual sector accounts in June; quarterly financial accounts with an 85-day delay; annual financial accounts with an 85-day delay; as well as input-output tables and supply and use tables, usually with a delay of 24 months. Productivity surveys can be produced some 10 months after the end of a statistical year, given that the data of the employment statistics are available slightly later than the data of national accounts for the corresponding period.
The data in the statistics on productivity surveys are not part of the transmission programme, meaning that they are not delivered to Eurostat.
National accounts data transmissions in the framework of the ESA 2010 transmission programme should be punctually delivered to Eurostat on the date set out in the transmission programme (or before).
Statistics Finland frequently transmits data to Eurostat ahead of the legal deadlines.
Comparability - geographical
In terms of productivity surveys, the geographical comparability must be ensured separately. The methods may differ slightly from one country to the next. Nor do all countries publish statistics corresponding to the statistics on productivity surveys.
Comparability - over time
Coherence - cross domain
The statistics on productivity surveys use the figures in national accounts as a direct source, due to which the figures are coherent.
Primary statistics like structural business statistics (SBS), short-term statistics (STS) and labour force statistics (LFS) are widely used as input for national accounts. However, there is no full consistency between these statistical domains and national accounts. Main reasons are differences in concepts or definitions and in coverage. Balance of payments is also used as an important source for national accounts. The definitions and coverage of balance of payments, as defined in the BPM6 manual, are fully harmonised with those in ESA 2010. Therefore, balance of payments variables are in principle fully coherent with the corresponding national accounts variables.
The discrepancies between national accounts domains concern only the latest observations, and are due to delays in the compilation and delivery schedules. The domains concerned also include balance of payments. National accounts/financial accounts and balance of payments compilation systems are integrated so that both time series are coherent from 2019 and from 2020 onwards for financial accounts.
Source data and data collections
National and regional accounts compilation builds up on statistics that are primarily collected for other purposes (primary statistics).
It relies on a variety of data sources, including administrative data: car and business registers, accounting statements, tax data, budgetary reports, population censuses, statistical surveys of enterprises and households, statements of supervising institutions and branch organisations, annual and quarterly reports, trade statistics on goods and services, balance of payments information.
There is no single survey source for national accounts. Sources vary from country to country and provide statistical information on a large set of economic, social, financial and environmental phenomena, which may not be strictly related to national accounts.
Sources and collection methods used in each country vary depending on the specific dataset.
Overall, it is difficult to be exhaustive in the listing of data sources. Methodological descriptions provided to Eurostat usually include information on the main data sources used (see Section Methdological descriptions. Further information on data sources can be found on the national websites (https://stat.fi).
National accounts departments typically do not collect data themselves but receive them from other departments or institutions. Countries can provide a more detailed description of the channels by which external data are collected.
The ESS guidelines suggest that the methods used for data collection should be described. It can also be appropriate to complete the section with the following issues: (i) national statistical agencies usually sign agreements and technical protocols for cooperation with other institutions on what, when, how, etc. the data would be delivered; (ii) the national accounts department also participates in the development of the questionnaires of statistical surveys of other departments.
Data sources are described in methodological descriptions of the statistics.
Frequency of data collection
The frequency and timing of the compilation of national accounts are not necessary aligned with the frequency and timing of (all) primary statistics data collections.
National accounts typically receive/collect quarterly and annual data according to their compilation schedules. Statistical offices of countries can provide a description of the time of receiving external data.
Documentation on methodology
Key approaches and techniques for the compilation of national accounts can be summarised as follows:
The leading approach to compile GDP in the framework of annual national accounts in Finland is the production approach.
Consistency is obtained via the benchmarking/balancing process. Certain items, such as changes in current assets and valuables or gross operating surplus and mixed income are derived as residuals. The same approach is applied to the compilation of quarterly national accounts. Sector accounts are compiled both together with main aggregates and afterwards.
National accounts statistics are consistent although at a given moment.
The aim of the European Statistical System (ESS) is currently to harmonise validation methods in order to improve the overall quality of data and the efficiency of data flows. This includes the definition of common standards and tools and support for implementation (see the ESS validation website https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/data/datavalidation). National accounts are a pilot in this area. The ESA 2010 Validation Task Force was set up in 2015 to agree and document validation rules in an ESA 2010 validation handbook and progressively implement them in a pre-validation service for national accounts data.
The comparison of data from different sources is an integral part of the national accounts compilation. Source data used in national accounts undergo a sequence of checks at Statistics Finland.
Principles and outlines
Contact organisation unit
Legal acts and other agreements
The compilation of statistics is guided by the Statistics Act. The Statistics Act contains provisions on collection of data, processing of data and the obligation to provide data. Besides the Statistics Act, the Data Protection Act and the Act on the Openness of Government Activities are applied to processing of data when producing statistics.
Statistics Finland compiles statistics in line with the EU’s regulations applicable to statistics, which steer the statistical agencies of all EU Member States.
Further information: Statistical legislation
National accounts are compiled in accordance with the European System of Accounts (ESA 2010), which was published in the Official Journal as Annex A to Regulation (EU) No 549/2013. The ESA 2010 transmission programme is covered in Annex B to the same Regulation.
ESA 2010 has the form of Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council and it provides for:
- A methodology (Annex A) on common standards, definitions, classifications and accounting rules that shall be used for compiling accounts and tables on comparable bases (link to blue book on ESA 2010 methodology);
- A programme of data transmission (Annex B) setting out the time limits by which Member States transmit to Eurostat the accounts and tables (link to ESA 2010 transmission programme).
Temporary derogations to the data transmission requirements have been granted to Member States, up to 2020, by the Commission Implementing Decision 2014/403/EU of 26 June 2014 thus allowing national data to deviate temporarily from the ESA 2010 transmission requirements.
Some other legal acts with relevance for national accounts concern:
- Commission Decision 98/715 of 30 November 1998 and Commission Decision 2002/990 of 17 December 2002 on measurement of price and volumes in national accounts.
- Legal act on the excessive deficit procedure
-Several separate acts, often regarding classifications such as: NACE Rev.2, CPA 2014, COGOG, COICOP, NUTS 2013.
More legal acts relevant for national accounts can be found on the Eurostat website, sections ‘National accounts’ and ‘Government finance and EDP’.
Confidentiality - policy
The data protection of data collected for statistical purposes is guaranteed in accordance with the requirements of the Statistics Act (280/2004), the Act on the Openness of Government Activities (621/1999), the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679 and the Data Protection Act (1050/2018). The data materials are protected at all stages of processing with the necessary physical and technical solutions. Statistics Finland has compiled detailed directions and instructions for confidential processing of the data. Employees have access only to the data essential for their duties. The premises where unit-level data are processed are not accessible to outsiders. Members of the personnel have signed a pledge of secrecy upon entering the service. Violation of data protection is punishable.
Further information: Data protection | Statistics Finland (stat.fi)
Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 on European statistics (recital 24 and Article 20(4)) of 11 March 2009 (OJ L 87, p. 164), stipulates the need to establish common principles and guidelines ensuring the confidentiality of data used for the production of European statistics and the access to those confidential data with due account for technical developments and the requirements of users in a democratic society. The European Statistics Code of Practice provides further conditions that have to be respected by statistical offices in regard to statistical confidentiality (Principle 5).
Confidentiality - data treatment
The data submitted are flagged either by ‘N= not for publication before embargo date’ or ‘F=free’
Statistics Finland publishes new statistical data at 8 am on weekdays in its web service. The release times of statistics are given in advance in the release calendar available in the web service. The data are public after they have been updated in the web service.
Further information: Publication principles for statistics at Statistics Finland
Good practice requires that new national accounts data and associated news releases are announced in a release calendar that is published well in advance of the respective releases.
Data are transmitted via Eurostat to other international organisations.
Quarterly financial accounts, balance of payments data and general government accounts are also transmitted directly to the ECB.
Accessibility and clarity
Statistical data are published as database tables in the StatFin database. The database is the primary publishing site of data, and new data are updated first there. When releasing statistical data, existing database tables can be updated with new data or completely new database tables can be published.
In addition to statistical data published in the StatFin database, a release on the key data is usually published in the web service. If the release contains data concerning several reference periods (e.g. monthly and annual data), a review bringing together these data is published in the web service. Database tables updated at the time of publication are listed both in the release and in the review. In some cases, statistical data can also be published as mere database releases in the StatFin database. No release or review is published in connection with these database releases.
Releases and database tables are published in three languages, in Finnish, Swedish and English. The language versions of releases may have more limited content than in Finnish.
Information about changes in the publication schedules of releases and database tables and about corrections are given as change releases in the web service.
Data revision - policy
Revisions – i.e. improvements in the accuracy of statistical data already published – are a normal feature of statistical production and result in improved quality of statistics. The principle is that statistical data are based on the best available data and information concerning the statistical phenomenon. On the other hand, the revisions are communicated as transparently as possible in advance. Advance communication ensures that the users can prepare for the data revisions.
The reason why data in statistical releases become revised is often caused by the data becoming supplemented. Then the new, revised statistical figure is based on a wider information basis and describes the phenomenon more accurately than before.
Revisions of statistical data may also be caused by the calculation method used, such as annual benchmarking or updating of weight structures. Changes of base years and used classifications may also cause revisions to data.
Quality management requires comprehensive guidance of activities. The quality management framework of the field of statistics is the European Statistics Code of Practice (CoP). The quality criteria of Official Statistics of Finland are also compatible with the European Statistics Code of Practice.
Further information: Quality management | Statistics Finland (stat.fi)
Every year Statistics Finland conducts statistical auditing that helps to ensure the quality of statistics.
The quality of national accounts data is assured by strict application of ESA 2010 concepts and by applying the guidelines of the ESS handbook for quality reports.
During the overall compilation process, national and regional accounts data undergo several kinds of quality checks,
including ex-ante (source statistics), ongoing (results), ex-post (methods used) and external checks (Eurostat, European or national Court of Auditors, IMF).
The quality criteria and practices of Statistics Finland are described at http://tilastokeskus.fi/meta/svt/svt-laatukriteerit_en.html
Data are released to all users at the same time. Statistical data may only be handled at Statistics Finland and information on them may be given before release only by persons involved in the production of the statistics concerned or who need the data of the statistics concerned in their own work before the data are published.
Further information: Publication principles for statistics
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