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Social transfers in kind

Australian System of National Accounts: Concepts, Sources and Methods
Reference period
2020-21 financial year


13.88    Social transfers in kind are individual goods and services provided to individual households by general government units and non-profit institutions serving households. The goods and services may be produced by the government units and NPISHs or purchased by them from market providers. They are provided to households for free or at prices that are not economically significant. Also included are reimbursements made to individual households by general government units or NPISHs for purchases by the households under a scheme that authorises purchase of approved goods and services (e.g. reimbursement of the costs of pharmaceuticals purchased under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and Medicare rebates for medical services).

13.89    In the ASNA, NPISHs are combined with households as part of the household sector so only the transfers between the household and general government are recorded. If NPISHs were classified to a separate institutional sector, estimates of actual individual consumption and actual collective consumption would be required. The actual individual consumption would be recorded as social transfers in kind to households.

13.90    In the core set of national accounts, social transfers in kind are treated as government final consumption expenditure and not household final consumption expenditure, even though it is the households that directly benefit. Therefore, they are not included in household disposable income.

13.91    For some analytical purposes, it is useful to consider a measure of household consumption that includes the goods and services provided as social transfers in kind. Consequently, social transfers in kind are included in adjusted disposable income and actual individual consumption. They are recorded in two supplementary accounts: the general government adjusted disposable income account and the household adjusted disposable income account.

13.92    Estimates of adjusted disposable income are compiled annually only.

Sources and methods - Annual

13.93    The table below outlines the data sources and methods used in the estimation of annual social transfers in kind in current prices.

Table 13.25 Annual social transfers in kind - Current transfers to households
Social transfers in kind

Estimates of social transfers in kind are obtained as a by-product of Government Finance Statistics.

For Commonwealth and State general government, data are extracted from administrative sources such as Commonwealth and State budget papers and Auditors'-General Reports, Commonwealth Department of Finance ledgers and supplementary departmental documents.

For local government, a joint ABS/Commonwealth Grants Commission annual return, which is collected from each local government authority, provides the details required.