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This information paper broadly addresses the quality of Australia’s balance of payments statistics. These statistics are an important and widely used component of the range of macroeconomic statistics published by the ABS, and their appropriate use and interpretation in part needs to be supported by an assessment of the quality of the data for the purposes to which they will be put. The purpose of this paper is to provide users with a general appreciation of the issues associated with, and factors that influence, the quality of these statistics. It provides some subjective assessments of the quality of the statistics and discusses some statistical measures of their reliability.
This paper directly addresses the quality of the balance of payments statistics that are published at current prices and in original terms. Many, but not all, of the issues that affect the quality of these statistics will also affect balance of payments statistics compiled at constant prices, and in seasonally adjusted and trend estimates terms.
This type of analysis also helps the ABS to assess the quality of its statistics and those areas most requiring improvements. The paper outlines the steps that the ABS takes to maintain the quality of the statistics and mentions several developments that are expected to lead to improvements in quality in the next few years. So that users can more readily assess the impact of these changes on the quality of the statistics, the ABS intends to update regularly its quality assessments and present them in articles appearing in related balance of payments publications.
The ABS invites readers to comment on the usefulness of this paper as a guide to the implications of data quality when using ABS balance of payments statistics. These comments will be used to better target user needs in establishing both the frequency and content of future quality articles. Comments can be faxed to Bob McColl on Canberra (06) 252 7219 or mailed to PO Box 10, Belconnen, ACT 2616.
W. McLennanAustralian Bureau of Statistics