5206.0 - Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product, Mar 2002  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 05/06/2002   
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  • Explanatory Notes


1 This publication contains estimates of gross domestic product (GDP) and its components, components of State final demand, the national income account, the national capital account and supporting series. Quarterly estimates are provided for the latest nine quarters. For the most part, these estimates are provided in trend and seasonally adjusted terms. Where trend and seasonally adjusted estimates are not available, original data are provided. Annual estimates, on an original basis, are provided for the key statistics for the past nine years. The List of tables at the beginning of this publication shows the full range of data provided. The full quarterly time series, including all original data on a quarterly basis (both national and State), are available from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on-line data service, Ausstats.


2 Australia's national accounts statistics are compiled in accordance with international standards contained in the System of National Accounts, 1993 (SNA93). A revised version of Australian System of National Accounts: Concepts, Sources and Methods (Cat. no. 5216.0) was released in December 2000 and is also available on the ABS website www.abs.gov.au (starting at the home page select: Statistics-About Statistics-Concepts and classifications-ABS concepts, sources, methods and statistical frameworks-5216.0). Extensive revisions were required to reflect the implementation of SNA93 in the Australian national accounts and other changes to sources and methods which have occurred over recent years. 5216.0 outlines major concepts and definitions, describes sources of data and methods used to derive annual and quarterly estimates for major aggregates at current prices and in chain volume terms, and discusses the accuracy and reliability of the national accounts. In addition, it includes documentation on input-output
tables, financial accounts, capital stock, productivity measures, balance sheets, and state accounts.

3 While national estimates are based on the concepts and conventions embodied in SNA93, no such standard is available for sub-national (regional/State) accounts. In the main, the national concepts are applicable to State accounts, but there remain a number of conceptual and measurement issues that either do not apply or are insignificant at the national level. These are discussed in detail in State Accounts, Australia: Issues and Experimental Estimates-S.Burrell, J.Daniel, A.Johnson and R.Walters(1984/4). While it is possible in some cases to derive quarterly estimates by State using the same data sources as used for the Australian estimates (or to derive the Australian estimates as the sum of the States), it is sometimes necessary to derive dissections of the Australian estimate using a variety of allocators. These allocators vary from being closely related to the aggregate being measured to being only indirectly related. Information on some of the more important conceptual, methodological and data issues re
lating to annual and quarterly estimates by State is provided in Chapter 28 of 5216.0.


4 Estimating the national accounts components for a period of less than one year presents special problems. It is often difficult to adhere strictly to definitions used in annual estimates when deriving quarterly ones. This is particularly the case for the quarterly measure of income, because it is not always possible to match the volume of production for a quarter with the cost incurred in that production. Difficulties are also encountered in obtaining detailed data for short periods and in preparing consistent estimates from different sources with different accounting procedures and periods. Furthermore, the quarter-to-quarter growth in seasonally adjusted terms is very sensitive to the timing of recording a transaction. If the recording of a transaction is delayed by one quarter, seasonally adjusted movements will be distorted for three consecutive quarters. All these problems affect the accuracy of the current price and chain volume estimates and should be taken into account in interpreting the estimates.

5 The majority of the estimates in the quarterly national accounts are based on the results of sample surveys. Many of the results of these surveys are released in the period leading up to the release of the quarterly accounts thus providing users with a guide to likely movements in key national accounting aggregates. In a national accounts context, these various pieces of information are referred to as partial indicators. Usually there are differences in concept and scope between the national accounts series and the relevant partial indicator which means that the movements in the partial indicator will not always be identical to the national accounts series movement. However, in general the movements should be similar. To ensure a reasonable level of consistency between the partial indicators and the national accounts series and hence present a common understanding of recent economic developments, the national accounts area liaises with the relevant survey areas and provides feedback regarding data quality and data coherence. This may result in adjustments being made by survey areas to their collected data prior to their release. The objective use of the national accounts framework to provide data coherence across all ABS economic statistics ensures that a common understanding of recent economic developments is presented.

6 The State estimates generally represent dissections of quarterly estimates published for Australia in this publication. Therefore, they will reflect any inaccuracies in those estimates as well as inaccuracies introduced by the particular conceptual, methodological and data problems inherent in the allocation of Australian estimates to States and Territories. As such, the degree of accuracy and reliability will necessarily be lower than that for the counterpart Australian estimates.

7 Estimates for compensation of employees, household final consumption expenditure and private gross fixed capital formation are based on the results of sample surveys. By their nature, survey results become less accurate as they are disaggregated (for example into States and/or industries). Generally, the ABS surveys used to derive these aggregates are designed to provide accurate estimates at the Australian total level and individual State estimates that are less accurate but still of acceptable quality. However, it should be noted that relative standard errors are generally higher for the smaller States and Territories than they are for the larger States. This may result in greater volatility in the quarterly estimates for the smaller States and two Territories.

8 Estimates of government final consumption expenditure, and general government and public enterprise gross fixed capital formation can be substantially affected by the indicators chosen to apportion the Commonwealth government component to States and Territories. Care is required when interpreting these estimates.


9 Most figures are subject to revision as more complete and accurate information becomes available. The revisions are of two types: those made to recent quarters and those made as a consequence of a redistribution across all quarters within a year following revisions to annual totals.


10 The chain volume measures appearing in this publication are annually-reweighted chain Laspeyres indexes referenced to the current price values in a chosen reference year (i.e. the year when the quarterly chain volume measures sum to the current price annual values). Chain Laspeyres volume measures are compiled by linking together (compounding) movements in volumes, calculated using the average prices of the previous financial year, and applying the compounded movements to the current price estimates of the reference year. Quarterly chain volume estimates are benchmarked to annual chain volume estimates, so that the quarterly estimates for a financial year sum to the corresponding annual estimate.

11 Generally, chain volume measures are not additive. In other words, component chain volume measures do not sum to a total in the way original current price components do. In order to minimize the impact of this property, the ABS uses the latest base year as the reference year. By adopting this approach, additivity exists for the quarters following the reference year (currently 1999-2000) and non-additivity is relatively small for the quarters in the reference year and the quarters immediately preceding it. The latest base year and the reference year will be advanced one year with the release of the June quarter issue of this publication. A change in reference year changes levels but not growth rates, although some revision to recent growth rates can be expected because of the introduction of a more recent base year (and revisions to the current price estimates underlying the chain volume measures).


12 The general methods for deriving seasonally adjusted and trend estimates are described in Appendix 3 of 5216.0.

Seasonal Adjustment

13 Data that are affected by seasonal factors are adjusted to remove the effects of these factors. Three important points should be noted here:

The methods used in seasonal adjustment do not force the sum of the adjusted current price estimates for each quarter of a year to equal the original annual total.

Where chain volume estimates have no apparent seasonality in their implicit price deflators, the estimates are adjusted using the corresponding factors for current price estimates.

A special method, known as the pseudo-additive method, has been used to adjust the output of cereal crops. This is necessary to account for the fact that there is no cereal output in some quarters.

14 Seasonally adjusted chain volume figures are calculated from seasonally adjusted figures expressed in the prices of the previous year. As with original data, the seasonally adjusted chain volume measures are benchmarked to annual original estimates. As a consequence, the seasonally adjusted chain volume measures sum to the corresponding annual original figures-unlike their current price counterparts.

Trend Estimates

15 Given the qualifications regarding the accuracy and reliability of the quarterly national accounts, the ABS considers that trend estimates provide the best guide to the underlying movements, and are more suitable than either the seasonally adjusted or original data for most business decisions and policy advice.

16 A trend estimate is obtained by removing the irregular component from the seasonally adjusted series. For estimates in this publication, it is calculated using a centred 7-term Henderson moving average of the seasonally adjusted series. Estimates for the three most recent quarters cannot be calculated using this centred average method; instead an asymmetric average is used. This can lead to revisions in the trend estimates for the last three quarters when data become available for later quarters, even if none of the original data for earlier quarters has changed. Trend estimates for aggregates such as GDP are derived directly, rather than as the sum of components. As a result, the sum of the trend estimates of individual components of a particular aggregate will not sum to the overall trend estimate of the aggregate for the latest three quarters. As advised in the June quarter 1998 issue of this publication, this approach provides higher quality trend estimates for key aggregates, particularly GDP.

17 The higher the 'irregular' component in a series, then the greater the likelihood that trend estimates for the latest quarters will be revised as more observations become available. However, it is important to note that this does not make the trend series inferior to the seasonally adjusted or original series. In fact, in such cases the effect of the irregular component on overall movements is likely to be even more in the seasonally adjusted and the original estimates than in the trend series.

18 For more information about ABS procedures for deriving trend estimates and an analysis of the advantage of using them over alternative techniques for monitoring trends, see Information Paper: A Guide to Interpreting Time Series - Monitoring 'Trends': an Overview (Cat. no. 1348.0) or contact the Assistant Director, Time Series Analysis on Canberra 02 6252 6345 or by email at timeseries@abs.gov.au.

19 Two feature articles which have appeared in the ABS monthly publication Australian Economic Indicators (Cat. no. 1350.0) may also be of interest:
Picking Turning Points in the Economy (April 1991) and Smarter Data Use (March 1992).

State and Territory versus Australian series

20 For trend and seasonally adjusted series, the sum of the States and Territories generally does not equal the corresponding estimate for 'total Australia', nor are the quarter-to-quarter movements identical. On a few occasions, these differences have been significant, particularly for the seasonally adjusted series. This reflects both the shorter span of data available for seasonal analysis at the State level and the fact that seasonal analysis is generally carried out at a more aggregated level than for the 'total Australia' series. The State and Territory trend and seasonally adjusted series are less accurate than the Australian data. However, as the State and Territory time series lengthen, the quarterly movements in the sum of the State estimates should more closely match those in the Australian series.


21 GDP can be derived by three broad approaches: the income approach (I), the expenditure approach (E) and the production approach (P). A description of each approach is provided in the following paragraphs. While each measure should, conceptually, deliver the same estimate of GDP, if the three measures are compiled independently using different data sources then different estimates of GDP result. However, the Australian national accounts estimates have been integrated with annual balanced supply and use tables. These tables have been compiled from 1994-95, up to the year preceding the latest completed financial year. As integration with balanced supply and use tables ensures that the same estimate of GDP is obtained from the three approaches, annual estimates using the I, E and P approaches are identical for the years for which these tables are available.

22 Prior to 1994-95, and for quarterly estimates for all years, the estimates using each approach are based on independent sources, and there are usually differences between the I, E and P estimates. Nevertheless, for these periods, a single estimate of GDP has been compiled. In chain volume terms, GDP is derived by averaging the chain volume estimates obtained from each of the three independent approaches. The current price estimate of GDP is obtained by reflating the average chain volume estimate by the implicit price deflator derived from the expenditure-based estimates.

23 As a result of the above methods:

  • there is no statistical discrepancy for annual estimates from 1994-95 up to the year prior to the latest full financial year, in either current price or volume terms;
  • for years prior to 1994-95, and for all quarters, statistical discrepancies exist between estimates based on the I, E and P approaches and the single estimate of GDP, in both current prices and volume terms. These discrepancies are shown in the relevant tables.


24 GDP using the income approach is derived as the sum of factor incomes, consumption of fixed capital (depreciation) and taxes less subsidies on production and imports. Volume estimates are derived by deflating current price estimates by the implicit price deflator from the expenditure approach.


25 GDP using the expenditure approach is derived as the sum of all final expenditures, changes in inventories and exports of goods and services less imports of goods and services. Volume estimates are derived for each of the components as well as for their sum.


26 GDP using the production approach is derived as the sum of gross value added for each industry, at basic prices, plus taxes less subsidies on products. Basic values represent the amounts received by producers, including the value of any subsidies on products, but before any taxes on products. The difference between the sum over all industries of gross value added at basic prices, and GDP at market (or purchasers) prices, is the value of taxes less subsidies on products.

27 In this publication, only volume estimates compiled using the production approach have been shown. These estimates are derived by extrapolating annual volume measures using various indicators. The information necessary to compile comprehensive current price estimates using the production approach is not available quarterly.


28 The quarterly implicit price deflators (IPDs) are derived by dividing seasonally adjusted current price estimates by the corresponding chain volume estimates. Movements in IPDs can be greatly affected by changes in the physical composition of the aggregates and their components. For this reason, quarterly IPDs derived from seasonally adjusted or trend data are preferred to those using original data. For further information see Chapter 10 of 5216.0.


29 The chain price indexes appearing in this publication are annually-reweighted chain Laspeyres price indexes referenced to the same year as the chain volume estimates. They can be thought of as a series of indexes measuring price change from a base year to quarters in the following year using current price values in the base year as weights, linked together to form a continuous time series. In other words, chain price indexes are constructed in a similar fashion to the chain volume indexes. Quarterly chain price indexes are benchmarked to annual chain indexes in the same way as their chain volume counterparts. Unlike implicit price deflators, chain price indexes measure only the impact of price change.


30 Table 6 analyses the contribution provided by each major component to the percentage change in the seasonally adjusted chain volume estimates of GDP. The contributions to growth of the components of GDP do not always add exactly to the growth in GDP. This can happen as a result of rounding and the lack of additivity of the chain volume estimates prior to the latest complete financial year. The formula used to calculate the contribution of each aggregate to


31 There are several ways of measuring the terms of trade. In this publication, the following index is used:

32 Estimates of the terms of trade are shown in tables 1, 9, 42 and 45.


33 Chain volume GDP is a measure of the volume of goods and services produced in Australia. If the terms of trade change significantly over the period of comparison, then this measure of GDP will not accurately reflect the change in real purchasing power of the income generated by domestic production. (See the Technical Note included in the September 1993 issue of this publication for a more detailed discussion.) A better measure of the real purchasing power of income generated by domestic production is chain volume GDP adjusted for the terms of trade effect, which is referred to as real gross domestic income (or real GDI). Real GDI is estimated by:
  • taking the volume measure of gross national expenditure (GNE);
  • adding exports of goods and services at current prices deflated by the implicit price deflator for imports of goods and services;
  • deducting the volume measure of imports of goods and services; and
  • adding the current price statistical discrepancy for GDP(E) deflated by the implicit price deflator for GDP

34 In the derivation of the aggregate all of the adjustments are made using the chain volume aggregation method used to derive all of the ABS chain volume estimates.


35 Chain volume GDP suffers from deficiencies as a measure of the economic well-being of Australians. Some of these deficiencies are overcome using the measure real gross domestic income (real GDI) described above. Other deficiencies can be overcome by making two adjustments to the real GDI measure. These are to account for the impact of income flows between Australia and the rest of the world and to allow for the consumption of fixed capital, which is the depreciation of machinery, buildings and other produced capital. The resulting measure is known as real net national disposable income (RNNDI). RNNDI is estimated by:
  • taking real GDI;
  • deducting real incomes payable to the rest of the world;
  • adding real incomes receivable from the rest of the world, and
  • deducting the volume measure of consumption of fixed capital.

36 Real incomes payable and receivable are calculated by dividing the nominal income flows by the implicit price deflator for gross national expenditure (GNE). In the derivation of the aggregate all of the adjustments are made using the chain volume aggregation method used to derive all of the ABS chain volume estimates. More detail on RNNDI is contained in a feature article published in the December quarter 2001 issue of this publication.


37 Movements in chain volume estimates of GDP per hour worked shown in tables 1 and 42 are commonly interpreted as changes in labour productivity. However, it should be noted that these measures reflect not only the contribution of labour to changes in production per hour worked, but also the contribution of capital and other factors (such as managerial efficiency, economies of scale, etc.).

38 When analysing labour productivity indexes it is critical to note that they are subject to the vagaries of the growth (or business) cycle as well as the effects of any measurement error in either output or labour input. Differences in the amplitude and phase of the input and output cycles can result in labour productivity indexes deviating substantially from their longer-term trend. Analytical work undertaken within the ABS suggests that movements in employment and hours worked tend to lag movements in GDP. Over a twenty year period, the lag at turning points in the growth cycle varied between zero and four quarters, with the average being between two and three quarters. The implication is that, in the period of the growth cycle when the growth in output is declining, indexes of labour productivity are likely to decline, particularly if rapid growth in GDP is abruptly ended. Conversely, labour productivity indexes are likely to grow strongly when the economy comes out of a cyclical trough.

39 A simple way to estimate the underlying trend in labour productivity is to compare the values of a labour productivity index spanning a growth cycle e.g. from the peak of one growth cycle to the peak of another. This analysis assumes that labour is being utilized to the same degree at each growth cycle peak. Average annual growth rates, over growth cycles, of estimates of gross product per hour worked in the market sector are shown in Australian System of National Accounts (Cat. no. 5204.0).


40 Five industries are excluded from the market sector: Property and business services; Government administration and defence; Education; Health and community services; and Personal and other services. These are excluded because their outputs are not marketed and/or because their outputs are derived either wholly or primarily by using either deflated input cost data or hours worked as indicators of output. The chain volume measure of the production of a group of industries referred to as the market sector is defined to be the chain volume estimate of industry gross value added of all industries less the above five industries, less Ownership of dwellings (for which an index of capital services is used as the indicator of output), plus taxes less subsidies on products attributable to the market sector industries.


41 The quarterly hours worked indexes used to derive the indexes of GDP per hour worked and market sector GDP per hour worked comprise all labour engaged in the production of goods and services and include not only hours worked by civilian wage and salary earners but also those of employers, self-employed persons, persons working one hour or more without pay in a family business or on a farm, and members of the Australian defence forces.


42 Private business investment is presented in table 41. It is defined as:
  • other buildings and structures
  • plus machinery and equipment
  • plus livestock
  • plus intangible fixed assets.

43 Second hand asset sales by the public sector to private corporations are included in private business investment in the components other building and structures and machinery and equipment. It is noted that since the public sector also sells second hand assets to the household sector and to the external sector, not all second hand asset sales by the public sector will be included in private business investment.


44 This ratio is presented in table 41. The denominator of this ratio, which is calculated using current price estimates, is defined as:
  • household final consumption expenditure on goods
  • plus private gross fixed capital formation: dwellings, other buildings and structures, and machinery and equipment
  • plus public gross fixed capital formation: dwellings, other buildings and structures, and machinery and equipment
  • plus exports of goods.


45 This ratio is presented in table 41. The numerator of this ratio, which is calculated using current price estimates, is imports of goods. The denominator-domestic sales-is defined as:
  • household final consumption expenditure on goods
  • plus private gross fixed capital formation: dwellings, other buildings and structures, and machinery and equipment
  • plus public gross fixed capital formation: dwellings, other buildings and structures, and machinery and equipment.


46 This is the ratio of household net saving to household net disposable income. Household net saving is calculated as household net disposable income less household final consumption expenditure. Household net disposable income is calculated as household gross disposable income less household consumption of fixed capital. The ratio is shown as a memorandum item in tables 31 and 32.


47 This is the ratio of the chain volume estimate of GDP to an estimate of the resident Australian population. Population estimates use data published in the quarterly publication Australian Demographic Statistics (Cat. no. 3101.0) and ABS projections.


48 The average compensation per employee can be measured in a number of ways. The series shown as a memorandum item in a number of tables in this publication is calculated as total compensation of employees divided by the number of wage and salary earners from the monthly Labour Force Survey.


49 In addition to the publications already mentioned, others of interest include:

Australian System of National Accounts (Cat. no. 5204.0)-annual

Australian National Accounts: State Accounts (Cat. no. 5220.0)-annual

Australian National Accounts: Financial Accounts (Cat. no. 5232.0)-quarterly

50 Current publications produced by the ABS are listed in the Catalogue of Publications and Products, Australia (Cat. no. 1101.0). The ABS also issues, on Tuesdays and Fridays, a Release Advice (Cat. no. 1105.0) which lists publications to be released in the next few days. The Catalogue and Release Advice are available from any ABS office.