5342.0 - Balance of Payments Statistics, Information Paper on Quality , 1996  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/02/1996   
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Contents >> Preface

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.

The analysis in this paper updates and extends the discussion in Chapter 15 (Quality of balance of payments statistics) of Balance of Payments, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods (5331.0) which was published by the ABS in October 1990.(1) As well as covering a more recent time period for the monthly series under analysis, the detailed analysis of revisions has been extended in this paper to include quarterly and annual series. The analyses now also include the impact of methodologies which have been changed since 1990, that not only revise previously published statistics (affecting the perceived reliability of the published accounts) but also improve the assessment of both the accuracy of series now being compiled and the expectations about the need for future revision.

    1. Subsequent to the publication of this information paper the ABS updated and extended Balance of Payments, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods. See particularly Chapter 15 Data Quality in Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 1998, Cat. no. 5331.0.

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. McLennan
Australian Statistician
Australian Bureau of Statistics
February 1996

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