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UNECE releases Inventory to help National Statistical Offices measure all aspects of our economies


UNECE has today released a detailed inventory of Thematic and Extended Accounts.  

This new resource offers comprehensive insights into the economic accounts published by countries worldwide that expand on the classical measures included in core national accounts.  

The System of National Accounts, known as the SNA, is an international standard framework used to measure the economic activity of a country. Giving us the well-known economic indicators such as Gross Domestic Product, the SNA provides a comprehensive overview of production, income, expenditure and wealth at the national level. It helps us to understand, analyse and compare countries’ economic performance and structure.  

However, it doesn’t always capture everything that contributes to the wealth and well-being of a country and its people, nor does it easily allow focused analysis of the economic activity of a specific activity, group, industry or sector. Sometimes, therefore, a country may decide to produce separate accounts to look in further detail at an aspect that is important to its economy. 

Such ‘thematic and extended accounts’ may either dig deeper into specific economic activities – such as tourism, culture, digital economy or healthcare – or go beyond the concepts and boundaries of the core national accounts, to look at things that contribute to the economy in ways that have not been included in the conventional measures. UNECE guidance on some of these topics, such as unpaid household work and human capital, has helped countries to develop these specialized accounts which contribute to an increased recognition of the often-overlooked value of domestic work, care, education and training. 

As the links between the economy and the environment become increasingly clear to policymakers, there is also a growing recognition of the need to integrate environmental data with SNA principles, guided by the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA). 

The inventory offers a fully comprehensive, searchable repository both of the thematic and extended accounts, and the environmental-economic accounts, produced by countries across the world.  Currently, it provides information from almost one hundred countries, covering around 40 different types of accounts. Examples range from Canada’s spotlight on the economic role of Canadian Indigenous Peoples, to Mexico’s satellite account on non-profit institutions and volunteering. On the environmental side, dedicated accounts for water, timber, waste, energy and minerals help countries understand the role of these vital factors in the functioning of their economies. 

Produced at the request of the Conference of European Statisticians, the tool provides an easy route for statistical offices wishing to learn from others as they compile their own new accounts. With links to the full datasets, as well as the detailed metadata describing how the accounts were produced, this is a model for inter-organizational learning and partnership, enabling all countries to benefit from the experiences of those pioneers which have already broken the path in producing these often very complex, challenging accounts. The compilation of all this information in one place, for the first time, also contributes to the worldwide effort to update the SNA, which will be revised in 2025.

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