Quarterly national accounts: documentation of statistics
Basic data of the statistics
National accounts are exhaustive. This means that all resident statistical units are covered.
An institutional unit is an economic entity characterised by decision-making autonomy in the exercise of its principal function. A resident unit is regarded as constituting an institutional unit in the economic territory where it has its centre of predominant economic interest if it has decision-making autonomy and either keeps a complete set of accounts, or is able to compile a complete set of accounts.
A local KAU groups all the parts of an institutional unit in its capacity as producer which are located in a single site or in closely located sites, and which contribute to the performance of an activity at the class level (four digits) of the NACE Rev. 2.
An institutional unit comprises one or more local KAUs; a local KAU belongs to one and only one institutional unit.
Finland uses 1) institutional unit used in sector accounts, 2) establishment that corresponds to a local KAU; this unit is used in production accounts and investments.
Unit of measure
In addition to measurement in current prices, some national accounts variables are also expressed in previous year's prices and chain-linked volumes, see Section 3.9. Furthermore, it is possible to derive growth rates and indices, and various other measures (e.g. percentages, per capita data, data expressed in purchasing power standards) can be applied as well.
Finland currently uses 2010 as the reference year for the compilation of chain-linked volumes. The method to compile quarterly chain-linked volumes is the annual overlap method.
Two basic kinds of information are recorded: flows and stocks. Flows refer to actions and effects of events that take place within a given period of time, while stocks refer to positions at a point of time (usually the beginning or end of a quarter).
In addition, several breakdowns of the total are described. Two of the most important breakdowns are the breakdown by institutional sector and the breakdown by NACE Rev. 2 activity. Exhaustiveness is required for each of the breakdown items.
Concerning the institutional sector breakdown, ESA 2010 distinguishes five mutually exclusive domestic institutional sectors: (a) non-financial corporations; (b) financial corporations; (c) general government; (d) households; (e) non-profit institutions serving households. The five sectors together make up the total domestic economy. Each sector is also divided into subsectors.
Regarding the activity breakdown, ESA 2010 applies NACE Rev.2. Activities can be broken down into several levels of detail, for example into 3, 10, 21, 38, 64 or 88 activities. At the 'highest' level a breakdown into three categories is defined: (a) agriculture, forestry and fishing; (b) mining and quarrying, manufacturing, electricity gas steam and air conditioning supply, water supply, sewerage, waste management and remediation activities, construction; (c) services.
Finland disseminates data using the classifications of the ESA 2010 transmission programme. There are typically more breakdowns in the national production systems.
Frequency of dissemination
From 2019 onwards, when the publication and revision policy was updated, national accounts and the balance of payments will follow a harmonised European revision policy (HERP).
All data are published and transmitted to Eurostat always when they become updated. Data are published both as a statistical release and as a statistical database update. Exceptions to this are the second updates of each quarterly national accounts release which are benchmarked after each publication into annual accounts and published only by updating the StatFin database.
Practices of Statistics Finland when changes are made to statistical data are described at:
Compensation of employees is broken down into:
a) wages and salaries (D.11): wages and salaries in cash; wages and salaries in kind;
b) employers’ social contributions (D.12): employers’ actual social contributions (D.121); employers’ imputed social contributions (D.122).
Consumption of fixed capital should be distinguished from the depreciation shown in business accounts. It refers to the amount of fixed assets used up, during the period under consideration. It should be estimated on the basis of the stock of fixed assets and the probable average economic life of the different categories of those goods.
Adjusted disposable income is a corresponding item in the redistribution of income in kind account.
- property income receivable in connection with financial and other assets belonging to the enterprise (on the resources side);
- interest on debts payable by the enterprise and rents payable on land and other non-produced tangible assets rented by the enterprise (on the uses side).
Property income payable in the form of dividends or reinvested earnings on direct foreign investment is not deducted from entrepreneurial income.
Products used for intermediate consumption should be recorded and valued at the time they enter the process of production. They are to be valued at the purchasers’ prices for similar goods or services at that time.
With the exception of some variables concerning population and labour, the system of national accounts shows all flows and stocks in monetary terms. The system does not attempt to determine the utility of flows and stocks. Instead, flows and stocks are measured according to their exchange value, i.e. the value at which flows and stocks are in fact, or could be, exchanged for cash. Market prices are thus ESA's basic reference for valuation.
In the case of monetary transactions and cash holdings and liabilities, the values required are directly available. In most other cases, the preferred method of valuation is by reference to market prices for analogous goods, services or assets. This method is used for e.g. barter and the services of owner-occupied dwellings. When no market prices for analogous products are available, for instance in the case of non-market services produced by government, valuation should be made according to production costs. If neither of these two methods are feasible, flows and stocks may be valued at the discounted present value of expected future returns. However, due to the great uncertainty involved, this last method is only recommended as a last resort.
Stocks should be valued at current prices at the time to which the balance sheet relates, not at the time of production or acquisition of the goods or assets that form the stocks. It is sometimes necessary to value stocks at their estimated written-down current acquisition values or production costs.
Gross national income represents total primary income receivable by resident institutional units: compensation of employees, taxes on production and imports less subsidies, gross operating surplus, gross mixed income and property income. Gross national income equals GDP minus primary income payable by resident units to non-resident units plus primary income receivable by resident units from the rest of the world.
Net lending/borrowing corresponds to the amount available to a unit or sec-tor for financing, directly or indirectly, other units or sectors, or the amount which a unit or sector is obliged to borrow from other units or sectors.
The corresponding concept to net lending/borrowing in financial accounts is financial transactions, net. It is the difference between net acquisition of fi-nancial assets and liabilities. If a sector acquires financial assets in excess of the amount of new debt incurred during the period it is a net lender.
Resident units engage in transactions with non-resident units, that is, units which are residents in other economies. These transactions are the external transactions of the economy and are grouped in the rest of the world account. So, in the accounting structure of the national accounts, the rest of the world plays a role similar to that of an institutional sector, although non-resident units are included only in so far as they are engaged in transactions with resident institutional units. Consequently, as far as coding of classifications is concerned, a specific item for the rest of the world is included at the end of the classification of sectors.
Notional resident units, treated in the system as institutional units, are defined as:
a) those parts of non-resident units which have a centre of economic interest (that is in most cases which engage in economic transactions for a year or more or which carry out a construction activity for a period of less than a year if the output constitutes gross fixed capital formation) on the economic territory of the country;
b) non-resident units in their capacity as owners of land or buildings on the economic territory of the country, but only in respect of transactions affecting such land or buildings.
The output of services of owner-occupied dwellings should be valued at the estimated value of rental that a tenant would pay for the same accommodation, taking into account factors such as location, neighbourhood amenities, etc. as well as the size and quality of the dwelling itself.
Production is an activity carried out under the control and responsibility of an institutional unit that uses inputs of labour, capital and goods and services to produce goods and services. Production does not cover purely natural processes without any human involvement or direction, like the unmanaged growth of fish stocks in international waters (but fish farming is production).
a) the production of all individual or collective goods or services that are supplied to units other than their producers (or intended to be so supplied);
b) the own-account production of all goods that are retained by their producers for their own final consumption or gross fixed capital formation. Own account production for gross fixed capital formation includes the production of fixed assets such as construction, research and development activities, the development of software and mineral exploration for own gross fixed capital formation.
Own-account production of goods by households pertains in general to:
(1) own-account construction of dwellings;
(2) the production and storage of agricultural products;
(3) the processing of agricultural products, like the production of flour by milling, the preservation of fruit by drying and bottling; the production of dairy products like butter and cheese and the production of beer, wine and spirits;
(4) the production of other primary products, like mining salt, cutting peat and carrying water;
(5) other kinds of processing, like weaving cloth, the production of pottery and making furniture.
Own-account production of a good by households should be recorded if this type of production is significant, i.e. if it is believed to be quantitatively important in relation to the total supply of that good in a country.
By convention, in the ESA, only own-account construction of dwellings and the production, storage and processing of agricultural products is included; all other own-account production of goods by households are deemed to be insignificant for EU countries.
c) the own-account production of housing services by owner-occupiers;
d) domestic and personal services produced by employing paid domestic staff;
e) volunteer activities that result in goods, e.g. the construction of a dwelling, church or other building are to be recorded as production. Volunteer activities that do not result in goods, e.g. caretaking and cleaning without payment, are excluded.
All such activities are included even if they are illegal or not-registered at tax, social security, statistical and other public authorities.
Production excludes the production of domestic and personal services that are produced and consumed within the same household (with the exception of employing paid domestic staff and the services of owner-occupied dwellings). Cases in point are:
a) cleaning, decoration and maintenance of the dwelling as far as these activities are also common for tenants;
b) cleaning, servicing and repair of household durables;
c) preparation and serving of meals;
d) care, training and instruction of children;
e) care of sick, infirm or old people;
f) transportation of members of the household or their goods.
the operating surplus of the direct foreign investment enterprise
+ any property incomes or current transfers receivable
- any property incomes or current transfers payable, including actual remittances to foreign direct investors and any current taxes payable on the income, wealth, etc., of the direct foreign investment enterprise.
A direct foreign investment enterprise is an incorporated or unincorporated enterprise in which an investor resident in another economy owns 10 per cent or more of the ordinary shares or voting power (for an incorporated enterprise) or the equivalent (for an unincorporated enterprise). Direct foreign investment enterprises comprise those entities that are identified as subsidiaries (investor owns more than 50 per cent), associates (investor owns 50 per cent or less) and branches (wholly or jointly owned unincorporated enterprises), either directly or indirectly owned by the investor. Consequently, ‘direct foreign investment enterprises’ is a broader concept than ‘foreign controlled corporations’.
Actual distributions may be made out of the entrepreneurial income of direct foreign investment enterprises in the form of dividends or withdrawals of income from quasi-corporations.
In addition, retained earnings are treated as if they were distributed and remitted to foreign direct investors in proportion to their ownership of the equity of the enterprise and then reinvested by them.
Reinvested earnings on direct foreign investment can be either positive or negative.
Time of recording: Reinvested earnings on direct foreign investment are recorded when they are earned.
In the system of accounts, reinvested earnings on direct foreign investment appear:
a) among uses and resources in the allocation of primary income account of the sectors;
b) among uses and resources in the external account of primary incomes and current transfers.
Subsidies granted by the Institutions of the European Union cover only current transfers made directly by them to resident producer units.
Subsidies are classified into:
a) subsidies on products (D.31)
(1) import subsidies (D.311)
(2) other subsidies on products (D.319)
b) other subsidies on production (D.39).
Taxes on production and imports are divided into:
a) taxes on products (D.21)
(1) value added type taxes (VAT) (D.211)
(2) taxes and duties on imports excluding VAT (D.212)
– import duties (D.2121)
– taxes on imports excluding VAT and import duties (D.2122)
(3) taxes on products, except VAT and import taxes (D.214)
b) other taxes on production (D.29).
The real gross domestic income can be derived by adding the so-called trading gain to volume figures on gross domestic product. The trading gain B or, as the case may be, loss B is defined as the current balance of exports less imports, deflated by a price index, less the difference between the deflated value of exports and the deflated value of imports. In the circumstances in which there is uncertainty about the choice of deflator an average of the import and the export price indices is likely to provide a suitable deflator.
a) transactions in products - which describe the origin (domestic output or imports) and use (intermediate consumption, final consumption, capital formation or exports) of products ;
b) distributive transactions - which describe how value added generated by production is distributed to labour, capital and government, and the redistribution of income and wealth (taxes on income and wealth and other transfers);
c) financial transactions - which describe the net acquisition of financial assets or the net incurrence of liabilities for each type of financial instrument. Such transactions often occur as counterparts of non-financial transactions, but they may also occur as transactions involving only financial instruments;
d) transactions not included in the three groups above:
consumption of fixed capital and acquisitions less disposals of non-produced non financial assets.
Most transactions are monetary transactions, where the units involved make or receive payments, or incur liabilities or receive assets denominated in units of currency. Transactions that do not involve the exchange of cash, or assets or liabilities denominated in units of currency, are non-monetary transactions.
Intra-unit transactions are normally non-monetary transactions. Non-monetary transactions involving more than one institutional unit occur among transactions in products (barter of products), distributive transactions (remuneration in kind, transfers in kind, etc.) and other transactions (barter of non-produced non-financial assets).
All transactions are recorded in monetary terms. The values to be recorded for non-monetary transactions must therefore be measured indirectly or otherwise estimated.
Accuracy, reliability and timeliness
The ESA 2010 transmission programme defines the required timeliness for all national accounts tables. Quarterly tables should become available between two or three months after the quarter-end. The annual tables have to be transmitted between two months (main aggregates) and 36 months (supply and use tables) after the end of the reference year.
In Finland, some statistics of national accounts are produced faster than the transmission programme. Such are annual sector accounts in June, as well as input-output tables and supply and use tables, usually with a delay of 23 months.
National accounts data transmissions in the framework of the ESA 2010 transmission programme should be punctually delivered to Eurostat at the timeliness defined in the transmission programme (or before).
Statistics Finland frequently delivers data to Eurostat ahead of the legal deadlines.
Comparability - geographical
Comparability - over time
Coherence - cross domain
Primary statistics like structural business statistics (SBS), short term statistics (STS) and labour force statistics (LFS) are widely used as input for national accounts. However, there is no full consistency between these statistical domains and national accounts. Main reasons are differences in concepts or definitions and in coverage. Balance of payments is also used as an important source for national accounts. The definitions and coverage of balance of payments, as defined in the BPM6 manual, are fully harmonised with those in ESA 2010. Therefore, balance of payments variables are in principle fully coherent with the corresponding national accounts variables.
The discrepancies between national accounts domains concern only the latest periods and are due to vintage (different timing of the calculations). The domains concerned also include balance of payments. National accounts/financial accounts and balance of payments compilation systems are integrated so that both time series are coherent from 2019 and from 2020 onwards for financial accounts.
Source data and data collections
It relies on a variety of data sources, including administrative data: car and business registers, accounting statements, tax data, budgetary reports, population censuses, statistical surveys of businesses and households, statements of supervising institutions and branch organisations, annual and quarterly reports, trade statistics on goods and services, balance of payments information.
There is no single survey source for national accounts. Sources vary from country to country and provide statistical information on a large set of economic, social, financial and environmental phenomena, which may not be strictly related to national accounts.
Sources and collection methods used in each country vary depending on the specific dataset. Overall, it is difficult to be exhaustive in the listing of data sources. Inventories provided to Eurostat usually include information on main sources. Further information on data sources can be found on the national websites http://tilastokeskus.fi/til/index_en.html
National accounts departments typically do not collect data themselves but receive them from other departments or institutions. Countries can provide a more detailed description of the channels by which external data are collected.
The ESS guidelines suggest that the methods used for data collection should be described. It can also be appropriate to complete the section with the following issues: (i) an NSI usually signs an agreement and technical protocol for cooperation with other institutions on what, when, how, etc. the data would be delivered; (ii) the national accounts department also participates in the development of the questionnaires of statistical surveys of other departments.
Data sources are described in methodological descriptions of the statistics.
Frequency of data collection
The frequency and timing of the compilation of national accounts are not necessary aligned with the frequency and timing of (all) primary statistics data collections.
National accounts departments typically receive/collect quarterly data in relation to their compilation schedule. Statistical offices of countries can provide a description of the time of receiving external data.
Key approaches and techniques for the compilation of national accounts can be summarised as follows:
The leading approach to compile GDP in the framework of annual national accounts in Finland is the production or value added approach. Consistency is obtained via the benchmarking/balancing process. Certain items, such as changes in current assets and valuables or gross operating surplus and mixed income are derived as residuals. Sector accounts are compiled both together with main aggregates and afterwards.
National accounts statistics are consistent although at a given moment.
The aim of the European Statistical System (ESS) is currently to harmonise validation methods in order to improve the overall quality of data and the efficiency of data flows. This includes the definition of common standards and tools and support for implementation (see the ESS validation website https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/data/data-validation). National accounts are a pilot in this area. An ESA 2010 Task Force on validation was established in 2015 to agree and document validation rules in an ESA 2010 validation handbook and progressively implement them in a pre-validation service for national accounts data.
The comparison of data from different sources is an integral part of the national accounts compilation. Source data used in national accounts undergo a sequence of checks at Statistics Finland.
Principles and outlines
Contact organisation unit
Legal acts and other agreements
National accounts are compiled in accordance with the European System of Accounts (ESA 2010) which was published in the Official Journal as Annex A of Regulation (EU) No 549/2013. The ESA 2010 transmission programme is covered in Annex B.
ESA 2010 has the form of Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council and it provides for:
• A methodology (Annex A) on common standards, definitions, classifications and accounting rules that shall be used for compiling accounts and tables on comparable bases (link to blue book on ESA 2010 methodology);
• A programme of data transmission (Annex B) setting out the time limits by which Member States shall transmit to Eurostat the accounts and tables (link to ESA 2010 transmission programme).
Temporary derogations to the data transmission requirements have been granted to Member States, up to 2020, by the Commission Implementing Decision 2014/403/EU of 26 June 2014 thus allowing national data to deviate temporarily from the ESA 2010 transmission requirements.
Some other legal acts with relevance for national accounts concern:
• Commission Decision 98/715 of 30 November 1998 and Commission Decision 2002/990 of 17 December 2002 on measurement of price and volumes in national accounts.
• Legal act on the excessive deficit procedure
Several separate acts, often regarding classifications such as: NACE Rev.2, CPA 2015, COFOG, ECOICOP, NUTS 2013.
More legal acts relevant for national accounts can be found on the Eurostat website, sections 'National accounts' and 'Government finance and EDP'.
National statistical legal acts are available at: http://tilastokeskus.fi/org/lainsaadanto/index_en.html
Confidentiality - policy
Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 on European statistics (recital 24 and Article 20(4)) of 11 March 2009 (OJ L 87, p. 164), stipulates the need to establish common principles and guidelines ensuring the confidentiality of data used for the production of European statistics and the access to those confidential data with due account for technical developments and the requirements of users in a democratic society. The European Statistics Code of Practice provides further conditions that have to be respected by statistical offices in regard to statistical confidentiality (Principle 5).
The data protection principles of Statistics Finland are described at: http://tilastokeskus.fi/meta/tietosuoja/index_en.html
Confidentiality - data treatment
The data submitted are flagged either by ‘E= not for publication before embargo date’ or ‘F=free’
Good practice requires that new national accounts data and associated news releases are announced in a release calendar that is published well in advance of the respective releases.
Data are transmitted via Eurostat to other international organisations.
Accessibility and clarity
There may be occasionally other press conferences.
Data revision - policy
Revisions – i.e. improvements in the accuracy of statistical data already published – are a normal feature of statistical production and result in improved quality of statistics. The principle is that statistical data are based on the best available data and information concerning the statistical phenomenon. On the other hand, the revisions are communicated as transparently as possible in advance. Advance communication ensures that the users can prepare for the data revisions.
The reason why data in statistical releases become revised is often caused by the data becoming supplemented. Then the new, revised statistical figure is based on a wider information basis and describes the phenomenon more accurately than before.
Revisions of statistical data may also be caused by the calculation method used, such as annual benchmarking or updating of weight structures. Changes of base years and used classifications may also cause revisions to data.
Quality management requires comprehensive guidance of activities. The quality management framework of the field of statistics is the European Statistics Code of Practice (CoP). The quality criteria of Official Statistics of Finland are compatible with the European Statistics Code of Practice.
Further information: Quality management | Statistics Finland (stat.fi)
During the overall compilation process, national and regional accounts data undergo several kinds of quality checks, e.g. ex-ante (source statistics), ongoing (results), ex-post (methods used) and external checks (Eurostat, European or national Court of Auditors, IMF).
The quality criteria and practices of Statistics Finland are described at
Publication principles for statistics at Statistics Finland are described at:
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