National accounts are designed to provide a systematic summary of national economic activity and have been developed to assist in the practical application of economic theory.
The system of national accounts includes national income, expenditure and product accounts, financial accounts, the national balance sheet and input-output tables. At their summary level, the national income, expenditure and product accounts reflect key economic flows - production, the distribution of incomes, consumption, saving and investment. At their more detailed level, they are designed to present a statistical picture of the structure of the economy and the detailed processes that make up domestic production and its distribution. The financial accounts show the financial assets and liabilities of the nation and of each institutional sector, the market for financial instruments and inter-sectoral financial transactions. The balance sheet is a comprehensive statement of produced and non-produced assets, liabilities to the rest of the world and net worth. Input-output tables show which goods and services are produced by each industry and how they are used.
The national accounts include many detailed classifications (e.g. by industry, by purpose, by commodity, by state and territory, and by asset type) relating to major economic aggregates.
The chapter includes an article Impact of the farm season on Australian production in 2002-03 and 2003-04. Although most people regard the overall measure of production, gross domestic product, as an important measure of progress, there are many who believe it should be assessed in conjunction with other measures of progress. The chapter concludes with an article Is life in Australia getting better? which provides some measures of Australia's economic, social and environmental progress over the period 1992 to 2002.