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1301.0 - Year Book Australia 2001, 2001  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/01/2001   
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HISTORY OF NATIONAL ACCOUNTS IN AUSTRALIA

The first official estimates of national income for Australia (based on estimates prepared by Clark and Crawford) were published in 1938 in The Australian Balance of Payments, 1928-29 to 1937-38, although unofficial estimates by several economists had been published in the 1920s and 1930s.1 In 1945, the first official set of national accounts was prepared by the then Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics (CBCS) and published in the Commonwealth Budget Paper Estimates of National Income and Public Authority Income and Expenditure.

The 1960s and early 1970s were times of significant development for Australian national accounting. The first official quarterly estimates of national income and expenditure were published in December 1960.2 In 1963 the CBCS published the first Australian National Accounts: National Income and Expenditure (ANA) bulletin, which included the first annual constant price estimates for Australia.3 Experimental input-output estimates were published in 1964.4 The CBCS began to seasonally adjust its quarterly estimates of national income and expenditure in 1967. Estimates of gross product by industry at constant prices were published for the first time in 1969.5 In 1971, the CBCS first published seasonally adjusted, constant price quarterly estimates of national income and expenditure, which later proved to be among the most used of all national accounting estimates. The CBCS published estimates of national income and expenditure based on the revised United Nations publication A System of National Accounts (1968 version) in 1973, and also published the first official input-output statistics6 in the same year.

In the 1980s, the former CBCS, now called the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), again made significant progress in national accounting. The first full edition of Australian National Accounts: Concepts, Sources and Methods was published in 1981 at about the same time as the first experimental estimates of capital stock.7 The ABS conducted a study into the accuracy and reliability of the quarterly estimates of national income and expenditure and published the results in 1982.8 Experimental State accounts9 were published in 1984, followed by the first official estimates in 1987.10 They are now published annually. In 1985, the ABS published an assessment of the effects of rebasing constant price estimates from a 1979-80 base to a 1984-85 base.11 In 1986, the second set of experimental estimates of capital stock was published12 followed in 1987 by the first official estimates of capital stock.13 The first quarterly estimates of constant price gross product by industry were released in 1988.14 These estimates have now been incorporated into the quarterly Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product (5206.0).

Further significant developments in national accounting and associated statistics have occurred during the 1990s. An updated edition of Australian National Accounts: Concepts, Sources and Methods was published in 1990 (subsequently available on CD-ROM), the same year as the first estimates of multifactor productivity were published15 . In 1990, the ABS also published developmental flow of funds accounts, showing the changes in financial assets and liabilities arising from the financing of productive activity in the economy.16 Flow of funds estimates are now published on a quarterly basis, along with estimates of stocks of financial assets and liabilities at the end of each quarter. An Information Paper describing the impact of rebasing constant price estimates from a 1984-85 base to a 1989-90 base was published in 1993.17 Experimental estimates of national balance sheets for Australia were first released in 1995,18 followed by the publication of regular annual national and sector balance sheet estimates in 1997.

Following the release of revised international standards for national accounts in the System of National Accounts, 1993 (SNA93), the ABS worked toward implementation of the revised and extended system recommended in that document. The first official release of Australian national accounts statistics on an SNA93 basis was for the September quarter 1998. Prior information on the nature and impact of implementation of the revised standards and methodology was provided in a series of discussion and information papers as follows:

  • Discussion Paper: Introduction of Revised International Statistical Standards in ABS Macro-economic Statistics (5245.0), December 1994.
  • Information Paper: Implementation of Revised International Standards in the Australian National Accounts (5251.0), September 1997.
  • Information Paper: Introduction of Chain Volume Measures in the Australian National Accounts (5248.0), March 1998.

Preliminary data on an SNA93 basis were made available in re-releases of the following publications:
  • Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product (5206.0), June quarter 1998, re-released in November 1998 in Information Paper: Upgraded Australian National Accounts (5253.0).
  • Australian National Accounts: Financial Accounts (5232.0), June quarter 1998, re-released in December 1998 in Information Paper: Upgraded Australian National Accounts: Financial Accounts (5254.0).


GDP and gross fixed capital formation - historical series

Table 29.1 provides time series for gross domestic product and gross fixed capital formation from 1900-01. As consistent time series are not available for the whole period, four overlapping data sets are shown for each aggregate. Data for the period 1900-01 to 1938-39 are taken from estimates published by Barnard and Butlin; data for 1938-39 to 1948-49 were published in the Budget White Paper National Income and Expenditure, 1955-56; data for 1948-49 to 1959-60 were published in the 1995-96 issue of Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product (5204.0), and are on an SNA68 basis; while the estimates for 1959-60 to 1998-99 were published in the 1998-99 issue of Australian System of National Accounts (5204.0). Although there are conceptual and methodological differences between the estimates for the various time periods shown in this table, it provides the best available time series for GDP for Australia over the last century.


29.1 GDP AND GROSS FIXED CAPITAL FORMATION, At Current Prices - 1900-01 to 1998-99

Gross domestic product ($m)

Gross fixed capital formation ($m)

Year
(a)
(b)
(c)
(d)
(e)
(b)
(c)
(d)
1900-01
419
55
1901-02
444
78
1902-03
428
68
1903-04
448
52
1904-05
444
47
1905-06
479
53
1906-07
538
72
1907-08
536
76
1908-09
573
75
1909-10
623
81
1910-11
684
98
1911-12
734
124
1912-13
802
147
1913-14
864
155
1914-15
838
140
1915-16
969
160
1916-17
1,022
184
1917-18
1,062
173
1918-19
1,145
185
1919-20
1,253
213
1920-21
1,382
246
1921-22
1,378
260
1922-23
1,510
274
1923-24
1,569
291
1924-25
1,722
302
1925-26
1,659
307
1926-27
1,729
326
1927-28
1,739
326
1928-29
1,712
305
1929-30
1,566
237
1930-31
1,287
173
1931-32
1,210
122
1932-33
1,264
135
1933-34
1,356
155
1934-35
1,432
206
1935-36
1,574
230
1936-37
1,717
249
1937-38
1,857
304
1938-39
1,819
1,860
307
322
1939-40
2,040
368
1940-41
2,174
446
1941-42
2,548
534
1942-43
2,936
768
1943-44
2,986
702
1944-45
2,906
580
1945-46
3,006
648
1946-47
3,234
652
1947-48
3,988
744
1948-49
4,524
4,493
792
806
1949-50
5,302
1,085
1950-51
7,034
1,554
1951-52
7,590
1,957
1952-53
8,601
1,951
1953-54
9,393
2,156
1954-55
10,004
2,382
1955-56
10,829
2,593
1956-57
11,785
2,685
1957-58
12,059
2,884
1958-59
12,952
3,050
1959-60
14,308
14,877
3,442
3,757
1960-61
15,936
4,069
1961-62
16,312
4,150
1962-63
17,601
4,444
1963-64
19,537
4,986
1964-65
21,417
5,739
1965-66
22,486
6,289
1966-67
24,903
6,739
1967-68
26,712
7,313
1968-69
30,141
8,215
1969-70
33,525
9,146
1970-71
37,103
10,191
1971-72
41,028
11,143
1972-73
46,353
11,998
1973-74
55,900
14,028
1974-75
67,105
15,766
1975-76
79,272
18,928
1976-77
91,225
21,463
1977-78
99,340
23,858
1978-79
112,764
27,478
1979-80
128,216
30,874
1980-81
145,566
37,785
1981-82
166,362
44,814
1982-83
179,512
44,297
1983-84
202,593
48,220
1984-85
224,858
55,317
1985-86
248,468
63,738
1986-87
272,546
69,110
1987-88
310,868
79,055
1988-89
351,933
92,915
1989-90
384,710
97,917
1990-91
397,180
88,992
1991-92
406,427
84,846
1992-93
427,404
92,043
1993-94
449,785
98,941
1994-95
474,546
110,652
1995-96
508,113
113,658
1996-97
533,632
121,170
1997-98
565,881
133,215
1998-99
593,311
141,126

(a) Barnard and Butlin, “Australian Public and Private Capital Formation, 1901-1975", Economic Record 57, pp. 354-367.
(b) Published by Commonwealth Statistician. Figures are from National Income and Expenditure 1955-56, and are not strictly comparable with subsequent years because of a number of definitional changes and statistical revisions; see pages 18-19 and 117-120 Australian National Accounts: National Income and Expenditure 1948-49 to 1961-62, Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics.
(c) Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product, 1995-96, Australian Bureau of Statistics.
(d) Australian System of National Accounts, 1998-99, Australian Bureau of Statistics.
(e) Barnard and Butlin, op.cit. For a variety of reasons, Professor Butlin’s gross domestic capital formation figures differ conceptually from those for gross fixed capital formation in the Australian national accounts.

Source: See footnotes.


Endnotes

1 Clark, Colin & Crawford J.G. 1938, The National Income of Australia, Angus and Robertson, Sydney; Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics 1938, The Australian Balance of Payments, 1928-29 to 1937-38, AGPS, Canberra; the earlier unofficial estimates are discussed in N.G. Butlin 1962, Australian Domestic Product, Investment and Foreign Borrowing, 1861 to 1938-39, Cambridge, Ch. 2.

2 Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics 1960, Quarterly Estimates of National Income and Expenditure, CBCS, Canberra.

3 Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics 1963, Australian National Accounts: National Income and Expenditure, 1948-49 to 1961-62, CBCS, Canberra.

4 Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics 1964, Australian Input-Output Tables, 1958-59, CBCS, Canberra.

5 Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics 1969, Estimates of Gross Product by Industry at Current and Constant Prices, 1959-60 to 1965-66, CBCS, Canberra.

6 Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics 1973, Australian National Accounts: Input-Output Tables, 1962-63, CBCS, Canberra.

7 Bailey, Cherylee 1981, Studies in National Accounting: Current-cost and Constant-cost Depreciation and Net Capital Stock, ABS, Canberra.

8 Johnson A.G. 1982, The Accuracy and Reliability of the Quarterly Australian National Accounts, ABS, Canberra.

9 Burrell S., Daniel J., Johnson A. and Walters R. 1984, State Accounts, Australia: Issues and Experimental Estimates, ABS, Canberra.

10 Australian Bureau of Statistics 1987, Australian National Accounts: State Accounts, 1985-86, ABS, Canberra.

11 Dippelsman R.J. 1985, The Effects of Rebasing the Constant Price Estimates of the Australian National Accounts, ABS, Canberra.

12 Walters R. and Dippelsman R. 1986, Estimates of Depreciation and Capital Stock, Australia, ABS, Canberra.

13 Australian Bureau of Statistics 1987, Australian National Accounts: Estimates of Capital Stock, 1985-86, ABS, Canberra.

14 Australian Bureau of Statistics 1988, Australian National Accounts: Gross Product, Employment and Hours Worked, June Quarter 1988, ABS, Canberra.

15 Australian Bureau of Statistics 1990, Occasional Paper: Estimates of Multifactor Productivity, Australia, ABS, Canberra.

16 Australian Bureau of Statistics 1990, Information Paper: Australian National Accounts: Flow of Funds Developmental Estimates, ABS, Canberra.

17 Australian Bureau of Statistics 1993, Information Paper: Australian National Accounts: Introduction of Constant Price Estimates at Average 1989-90 Prices, ABS, Canberra.

18 Australian Bureau of Statistics 1995, Occasional Paper: National Balance Sheets for Australia: Issues and Experimental Estimates, 1989 to 1992, ABS, Canberra.


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