National accounts

Understanding National Accounts – latest edition now out


20/10/2014 - The OECD has updated its key textbook explaining how economic activity is monitored and measured.


The release of the latest edition of Understanding National Accounts coincides with the adoption by EU countries of the new SNA 2008 accounting system. As well as providing a comprehensive explanation of how national accounts are compiled and what they mean, the book reflects how the system has evolved in recent years. It explains how national accounts can show dramatic changes in activity such as during the recent financial crisis, and takes into account technical revisions such treating research and development as investment in knowledge rather than simply as a current cost, as it was previously.


The latest edition of the book also shows that beyond the traditional objective of measuring economic growth and GDP, national accounts can be a rich underlying source for tracking people’s material well-being.


When used in parallel with new data on trade in value-added, core national accounts can help us understand the interconnectedness of our economies, the book says.


Understanding National Accounts is divided into the following chapters:


  • The essential macroeconomic aggregates: Defining GDP
  • Distinguishing between volume and price increases
  • International comparisons
  • Production: What it includes and excludes
  • Defining final uses of GDP
  • The household account
  • Business accounts
  • The financial and balance sheet accounts
  • The general government account
  • The input-output table and integrated economic accounts
  • The national accounts machinery: Compilation and reporting
  • The national income and product accounts of the US
  • The 2007-2009 financial crisis and recession: Reflections in the national accounts
  • The international systems of national accounts: Past and future
  • GDP as a welfare metric: The “beyond GDP” agenda
  • National accounts in a globalising world


The book gives clear, real examples to provide practical explanations of the concepts. Many of the chapters contain a set of exercises for students and the answers to the exercises are available on the web page of the book.


Journalists can request a copy of Understanding National Accounts from the OECD Media Division (+33 1 45 24 97 00).


>> Read the OECD Insights blog: Calculate this country's GDP


>> Further information on the OECD work on national accounts


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