National accounts

Tips for a better use of the OECD Annual National Accounts statistics


1. Overview of the ANA database

The Annual National Accounts database (ANA database) gives a complete set of annual national accounts. It is divided into seven main categories:

  1. GDP and components (GDP following the expenditure, output and income approaches , Purchasing power parities (PPPs) and exchange rates)
  2. National accounts at a Glance
  3. Income, consumption, saving and borrowing (Final consumption expenditure of households (COICOP), Disposable income and net lending/net borrowing)
  4. Production, employment and investment (Population and employment, Labor input by activity, Value added by activity, Capital formation by activity, Balance sheet for non-financial assets by institutional sectors)
  5. Pensions (Social insurance pensions)
  6. Non-financial accounts including sector accounts (presents the complete set of national accounts by institutional sector)
  7. Government non-financial accounts (Taxes, Expenditure by function (COFOG), Deficit/ surplus, expenditure, revenue, and main aggregates)

The Annual National Accounts database provides data for all OECD member states, key partner countries and groups of countries such as the European Union or the total of OECD member states. Most time series start in 1970, yet some series are also available from 1950 onwards. The data can generally be selected according to following dimensions (depending on the type of table): reference area, transaction, unit of measure, time period, institutional sector, economic activity, non-financial assets[1]and expenditure (detailed by COICOP or COFOG) . Data are expressed in millions (national currencies, US dollars, hours worked), thousands (persons, jobs), index, growth rate, or unit (PPPs). The default power code and number of decimals can be changed by the user.


2. Data collection

Data are collected through questionnaires covering the different tables. For the European OECD member states, this questionnaire corresponds to the Eurostat questionnaire, whereas the non-European member states receive an OECD-specific questionnaire. The questionnaires are sent to the OECD member countries once a year.

All OECD member states compile their accounts according to the 2008 System of National Accounts (2008 SNA).

Data release dates vary across countries. EU countries usually publish the main aggregrates between February and April. More detailed breakdowns are reported in October. Fixed assets broken down by industry and product are released after 24 months. Non-European OECD countries loosely follow this schedule: Japan releases data in February, Canada and New Zealand in March, Colombia, Costa-Rica, Chile and Türkiye in April, Israel and Korea in September, Australia, Mexico and USA in November.

The data are revised on a regular basis, usually two or three times a year. In general, revisions depend on the national statistics institutes’ changes or adjustments. Revisions mainly concern the latest three years and reflect readjustments of previous estimates. Besides the regular adjustment of data, exceptional revisions can occur, for instance due to changes in methodologies or sources. When this is the case, the OECD incorporates the new data into a blank version to clearly distinguish the new version from the old one. This may also lead to a reduced coverage of the time period until the country is able to submit historical data in accordance with the new methodology. Main aggregates, however, are linked to former data to provide users with longer time series in the meantime.

The metadata in the database provide country specific information on the sources and methodology and can be accessed by clicking the “i” next to the country name (i.e., the reference area) or the transaction.


3. Price base and unit of measure and transformations

The price base  covers the valuation of the data (current prices, chain linked volumes, previous year prices, etc.) and the unit of measure expresses by example if the data is in national currency, converted to US dollars using purchasing power parities or exchange rates. It also specifies if the data is presented as an index, in percentage change, etc. The transformation would specify is the series is shown as a growth rate.

Current and constant prices

At current prices, the flows of physical quantities are reported at the end of the fiscal or calendar year and evaluated by the prices reported in this particular year. Across time, GDP value can be affected by quantities and price changes. The drawback of this measure is that it can give the false impression that quantities have changed during the year, while in reality, the GDP fluctuation was due to a change in price (or inflation).

The constant prices (or chain linked volume) estimates on the other hand will give a better idea of the GDP volume (quantity) on the entire period. The 2008 SNA recommends chain-linked estimates and they are usually used to compare values over time. Chained estimates better reflect changes in aggregates than constant prices because they use the price structure of the previous year and thus reflect part of the evolution of the structure of the economy. The only problem with chain-linked estimates is that the additivity is lost and it can’t be conceptually used on transactions presenting positive and negative data (such as stocks data). Users may also convert data to current or constant PPPs to compare across countries or over time.

In the database, the volume measure depends on the country’s submission to the OECD. All OECD member countries publish chain-linked estimates with the exception of Mexico, which releases constant prices1. Each country has its own national reference year. It varies from one country to the other. By selecting the Unit of measure “L”, users display chain-linked data at the national reference year. To ascertain comparability, the measure “LR” displays all data with the same OECD reference year, which is currently 2015.


List of price bases

L Chain linked volume, national base year
LR Chain linked volume (rebased)
V Current prices
VQ Current prices (constant convertor)
DR Deflator (rebased)
Y Previous year prices


List of units of measures

H Hours
FTE  Full time equivalent unit
JB Jobs
PS Persons
XDC National currency
USD_PPP_PS US dollars per person, PPP converted
USD_PPP US dollars, PPP converted
USD_EXC US dollars exchange rates converted
XDC_USD National currency per US dollar
PC Percentage change
IX Index

List of transformations

G1 Growth rate, period on period
N Non transformed data
MIX_100 Multilateral index rebased to 100



1. The full name of this dimension is financial instruments and non-financial assets.



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