The concepts described on these pages are words and expressions used in statistics with a specific, limited meaning. In everyday speech the word may have a different meaning. In connection with each definition you can find information about which sets of statistics use the concept.

If you are looking for statistical figures, go from the definition to the statistics page.


The system records two basic kinds of information: 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.

Stocks are holdings of assets and liabilities at a point in time. Stocks are recorded at the beginning and end of each accounting period. The accounts that show stocks are called balance sheets. Stocks are also recorded for population and employment. However, these stocks are recorded as mean values over the accounting period.

Stocks are recorded for all assets within the system’s boundaries; that is, for financial assets and liabilities and for non-financial assets, both produced and non-produced. However, the coverage is limited to those assets that are used in economic activity and that are subject to ownership rights. Thus, stocks are not recorded for assets such as human capital and natural resources that are not owned.

Within its boundaries, the system is exhaustive in respect of both flows and stocks. This implies that all changes in stocks can be fully explained by recorded flows.

Statistics using the definition

Validity of the definition

  • Valid until (31 December 2078)

Source organisation

  • EU