Data Papers on GDP
The World Economy: Over Half a Century of Near Continuous Growth
, World Economics, March 2018
The World Economy has grown for 57 out of the past 58 years, only the great recession of 2009 saw an interruption in over half a century of continuous growth. Over the whole of the last 5 decades, annual real GDP growth has averaged 3.2%, and 1.6% in per capita terms. Global Real GDP split by continent illustrates that the share of the world’s GDP in the Asian region grew considerably faster than all other continents, from 16.8% in 1960 to 47.0% in 2017. The wealth of Europe and the Americas remains considerably higher compared with Asian and African continents.
Debunking the Relevance of the Debt-to-GDP Ratio
Arturo C. Porzecanski
, World Economics, March 2018
Historical experience does not confirm the simplistic notion that the heavier the burden of the public debt relative to GDP, the greater is the risk that governments will encounter debt-servicing difficulties. In 25 government defaults that occurred during 1998-2017, the pre-default debt-to-GDP ratios ranged from a very low of 27% (Ecuador in 2008) to a very high of 236% (Nicaragua in 2003), with a sample median of 79%. As ratios of government debt rise, some societies manage to deliver more responsible fiscal behaviour. Low debt ratios, on the other hand, often mask dangerous currency or maturity mismatches, as well as contingent liabilities, capable of suddenly impairing banks and governments. The demand for government bonds can behave unpredictably, and governments with low or high debt ratios can suddenly find themselves cut off from needed financing. Official institutions like the IMF, European Commission, and World Bank have done themselves and their member states a great disfavour by obsessing about debt ratios which do not predict fiscal outcomes.
Measuring the Share of Labour in GDP
, World Economics, December 2017
There is a view that increasing inequalities in advanced economies are responsible for growth problems and political polarisation. A new impetus has been injected into the analysis of macroeconomic income distribution since if capital’s share is rising this has implications for the personal distribution of income. An international comparison of data from advanced countries does not reveal any widespread or consistent decrease in labour’s share for the past quarter of a century. No pattern is discernible and a number of statistical limitations and data issues need to be taken into account when interpreting the functional distribution of income.
Analysis of Revisions in Indian GDP Data
& Rajeswari Sengupta
, World Economics, December 2017
This paper studies constant price growth estimates of India’s annual GDP data in order to understand the revision policy adopted by the Central Statistics Office. The use of high-frequency indicators to prepare initial estimates overstates the growth of the economy, although at the aggregate level the difference between initial estimates and final revisions is low. At the sectoral level the extent of revision for almost all sectors is large and the magnitude and direction of the revision is unpredictable. The Central Statistical Office must address issues in data quality and revisions by (i) adopting a comprehensive revision policy, (ii) supplying information and data on high frequency indicators and (iii) adopting revision metrics to assess the quality of estimates.
Measuring GDP in Fragile States
& Jose Pablo Valdes Martinez
, World Economics, December 2017
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is central to measuring economic performance and productivity, and monitoring fiscal and monetary policies, as well as changes in poverty and shared prosperity. Compiling GDP in accordance with internationally agreed definitions and rules is a complex and data-intensive task, but it is especially challenging in fragile countries. Data are often lacking, of poor quality, or out of date. Much economic activity takes place outside the formal economy, and measuring real growth is more difficult for countries facing armed conflict or natural disasters. But fragile states need accurate measures of GDP, because their economic losses are commonly evaluated in terms of GDP prior to the design and implementation of any mitigation policies.
Double Deflation Casts Doubt on Existing GDP Data
, World Economics, June 2017
Increasingly, national income statisticians, the specialists involved in producing real national income figures, and the users of those figures are living in a parallel universe. Most countries use an outdated and inaccurate method to estimate real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by using what is termed single deflation. Best practice suggests using double deflation: one price index to deflate the prices of goods produced and another to deflate the value of intermediate goods used up in production. A recent study comparing single deflation calculations with double deflation official growth estimates for eight countries showed that, for some years, single deflation figures deviated up- or downwards from the official estimates by as much as 3–4 percentage points.
Why Maddison was Wrong: The Great Divergence Between Imperial China and the West
& Patrick O'Brien
, World Economics, June 2017
Much academic debate in Western and Chinese universities has engaged in testing the hypothesis that standards of living in China did not fall behind those of the populations of the national economies of Western Europe until late in the eighteenth century Unfortunately, the data for China accessible in secondary sources do not provide historical runs of estimates either for GDP or for total population, let alone for any purchasing-power-parity rates of exchange estimates. Angus Maddison used short-cut methods to circumvent these difficulties, but a platoon of distinguished economists have found his methods and estimates to be conceptually and statistically unacceptable as historical evidence. The data currently available for China are and may well remain too fragmentary, ambiguous and insecure to sustain a Kuznetsian perception for investigation into the historical origins of the Great Divergence.
New Estimates of Regional GDP in the UK
, World Economics, June 2017
Real GDP is estimated by applying a price-level estimate or deflator to nominal GDP, but GDP levels in the UK’s 12 inhabited regions are only reported at nominal prices with no allowance for differences in regional prices. A purchasing power parity (PPP) rate for the £ in each region, measuring how much a typical bundle of goods and services would cost, is required to create an accurate index to apply to nominal GDP in order to get real regional values. A solution lies in creating an expenditure-based, weighted, regional price index for consumers’ expenditure, government spending, investment and exports, to adjust nominal data to real price levels. Using imperfect public data, creating an expenditure-based index makes a significant difference to the size of each regional economy and to GDP per capita. In real terms, the London economy shrinks by 12%, the South-East contracts by 2% and all other regions increase in size.
China’s GDP Per Capita from the Han Dynasty to Communist Times
& Patrick O'Brien
, World Economics, June 2016
This article is a critical survey of the concepts and data utilized by economists and economic historians that purport to measure relative levels and long term trends in GDP per capita from the Han Dynasty to Communist times. We favour attempts to extend macro-economic analysis and its associated quantification to China’s long imperial history, but have concluded that estimates calibrated in international dollars for 1990, or 2005 or 2011 are not fit for that purpose. Furthermore, and after surveying recent endeavours to reconstruct the published secondary and official statistical sources available for the measurement of primary production for Ming and Qing China (1368-1911), we reluctantly suggest that Kuznetsian paradigms for empirical economics are probably not viable, either for the measurement of the empire’s growth over time or for reciprocal comparisons with European economies. This is because on both conceptual and statistical grounds the concept and associated metric for GDP per capita does not travel easily and securely between the fiscal systems of China and the West (Yun-Casallila and O’Brien 2012).
How Fast Will China Grow Towards 2030: And what about the US?
, World Economics, June 2016
Historical data for the last fifty years shows that there is a surprisingly strong correlation between the growth rate of a nation’s GDP per person and its income level. The growth rate declines linearly with income, and this relationship can be used to estimate the future growth rate of a nation’s economy. Using the same method it is also possible to forecast the share of GDP in agriculture, industry, and services – and to demonstrate the continuing decline of the share in industry as a nation get very rich. This article concludes with a discussion of the likely impact of robotisation and greening on GDP growth.
Measuring GDP in Europe
World Economics, June 2015
In Europe the quality of national income statistics is less constrained by the capacity and resources devoted by national statistics offices to follow international best practice than is the case in many other parts of the world. In addition the members of the European Union have to meet the harmonised standards of national accounting set by Eurostat which are based on the United Nations System on National Accounts. However, despite recent modifications both these standards fail to adequately record the size of the informal economy.
GDP as the champion of measurements: Story of an obsession
& Terence Tse
, World Economics, March 2015
This paper considers the importance of measurement in complex societies and notes that the concept of measuring macroeconomic variables such as GDP was grounded in the impact of the 1929 Wall Street Crash on America. Simon Kuznets, a Harvard economist, produced a report for the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) which was published in 1934. Despite warnings of the limitations of GDP, its use has expanded to include government expenditures while to Kuznets government activities were an intermediate service and not part of final output. This paper considers particular inadequacies in using GDP as a measure of welfare when it includes, prison funding, natural disaster relief or expenditure on big sports events. The paper also argues that we should move beyond GDP while still recognizing its benefits as an organized methodology. Climate change, environmental disasters and international terrorism, transcend the assumption that economic growth is all we need. It concludes that an index capable of measuring social progress, independent from economic activity is needed.
Measuring The Americas GDP
World Economics, March 2015
The Americas, comprising the USA and Canada, the Spanish speaking countries of South and Central America plus Brazil and the Caribbean, is a region displaying large differences in living standards. The availability of resources has an impact on the quality and reliability of economic statistics. Chile and Mexico, both OECD members, produce economic data that can be compared favourably with the USA, Canada and many European countries. In other countries out of date base years, outdated national income accounting standards and problems in recording the size of the informal economy mean that GDP figures are likely to be underestimated. The most insidious problem in the region arises from the political manipulation of economic data in Argentina which has led to a censure of the government by the IMF.
Measuring the Asia-Pacific Region
, World Economics, September 2014
The Asia-Pacific region covers the countries around the Pacific Rim, South East Asia, the Indian Sub-Continent and Oceania. It contains three of the world’s largest economies outside the US: China, India and Japan. The quality of economic statistics varies widely across the region mainly because of differences in the resources available to national statistical offices in the large number of poorer countries. There are other data problems affecting inter-country comparisons: the use of old standards of national income accounting; the degree to which shadow and informal economies are under-recorded; and the use of outdated base years for the calculation of real GDP. On top of these issues is the continuing question about the extent to which China’s economic data is subject to political manipulation.
Measuring Latin America
, World Economics, March 2014
This paper reviews the quality of official national accounting data investigated for 17 Latin American countries. Chile, which became an OECD member in 2010, stands out as a producer of the most reliable economic data and can be compared favourably with the USA and many European countries. The most significant data problems are the use of old standards of national income accounting, the use of outdated base years and the degree to which the shadow economy is underrecorded. In Argentina there is the additional problem that official published economic data has been subject to much interference in order to downplay inflation while reporting higher real national income and lower poverty data. A simple exercise is undertaken to estimate what the size of Latin American GDP might be if most countries updated their base years to 2012.
Measuring Argentina’s GDP Growth: Myths and facts
, World Economics, March 2014
The main purpose of this paper is to report on the results of an exhaustive reworking of Argentina’s output growth by industry realized by the ARKLEMS+LAND Argentina Productivity and Competitiveness Project. The aim was to reproduce a GDP time series since 1993 using traditional Argentinean national accounting methodology in order to check economic growth against official statistics produced after political intervention in the work of the National Statistics institute since 2007. The reproduced ARKLEMS GDP series closely approximates to official GDP between 1993 and 2007 at macro and industry level. But after 2007, Official series showed a higher growth than ARKLEMS reproducible (29.4% Official GDP vs. 15.9% ARKLEMS GDP for 2007–2012). However, the gap between the series is not related to the use of biased CPI deflators, but it is due to the abandoning of traditional methodology followed by Argentinean national accounts prior to its intervention. The paper shows that Argentina’s recent growth episode of 2002–2012 was similar to the previous positive growth cycle period of 1990–1998. Argentina was not the growth champion of the Latin America region during the later period, but it has one of the highest rates of volatility of GDP across Latin America. Argentine official GDP data has been subject to the so-called ‘Pandora’s Box’ effect as a result of the political intervention in the production of official statistics.
From Stellar Growth to Underperformance: The Abiding Vulnerability of the Indian Economy
Dilip K. Das
, World Economics, September 2013
The economic trajectory of the Indian economy has altered several times. After decades of severe underperformance, the Indian economy gradually picked up momentum in the 1980s and 1990s, and turned in a stellar performance during the 2000s. This paper examines the rationale behind the ups and downs in India’s economic performance. It provides a succinct account of various phases of growth, delayed initiation of reforms, tardy and incomplete implementation, and vitally important economic strategies that should have been adopted by Indian policymakers but were ignored. In addition, India failed to address several serious structural issues, allowed them to fester indefinitely and paid a high price in terms of GDP growth. Paradoxically the economy benefited from the incomplete reforms and Indian growth had a stellar growth period in the 2000s, before slumping in 2011. Deterioration continued in 2012. The paper delves into the causes behind the deceleration, and analyses how macroeconomic attrition came about. It concludes with proposals of a revival strategy warranted by the current economic predicament.
Poor Economic Statistics Fuel China’s Low Consumption Myth
& Tian Zhu
, World Economics, June 2013
The generally held belief that China’s consumption is too low is a myth based on inadequate theory, a misreading of official statistics and the use of market exchange rates for making international comparisons. Chinese official statistics underestimate consumption expenditure on housing, they omit consumption paid for as benefits by the corporate sector, and there are a number of problems with the household expenditure surveys employed. An adjustment for statistical issues suggests that the rate of consumption is 60–65% of GDP, not the 48% based on the widely quoted official statistics figures, and is quite similar to the level experienced by other East Asian economies.
The Value of Value Added: Measuring global engagement with gross and value-added trade
, World Economics, December 2012
As production has become more globally integrated, imported components account for a rising share of the value of exports. Many countries may contribute inputs to a good, and the final assembler may capture only a small share of the product’s value. Official trade statistics, which attribute all value to the final exporter, can be uninformative or misleading about a country’s global engagement and its participation in global supply chains. New measures are required that incorporate both production and trade, and track the flow of inputs, and their value, through industries and across national borders. This paper examines the construction and use of value-added measures that incorporate the necessary production and trade data, and evaluates their performance against similar measures based on gross trade. The value-added measures provide a more revealing look into global integration that is consistent across different measures and analytical approaches.
Measuring African GDP: The next success story?
, World Economics, June 2011
There is much speculation about the growth potential of African economies. But in the light of unreliable official statistics and the highly selective information often presented by investment companies with an incentive to highlight the positive, this article aims to provide some extra analysis to add to the recent widespread comments on high growth rates within the continent. Problems are noted with official economic data and the strengths of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) measures for GDP comparisons are noted. GDP figures for Africa and five other major economic areas are analysed for the three decades to 2010 in terms of GDP growth and GDP level by decade. These figures are then viewed in per capita terms, drawing attention to significant population growth within the continent, and therefore less impressive per capita figures. A closer look at the location and distribution of economic activity within the African continent highlights the high concentration of economic activity within a small number of countries. However, it is concluded that the future prospects for African growth are still generally positive. Despite the heavy reliance on oil exports in some countries, headline GDP figures also reflect incidences of broad-based growth which looks set to continue so long as Asian demand remains high and good economic policies are pursued.
Keywords: Africa, Algeria, Angola, Economic growth, Egypt, EU, GDP, Growth, India, Kenya, Nigeria, PPP, Sub-saharan Africa, US
The Power of Price Indexes: And how to use them to steal a hundred billion dollars, seriously underestimate Japanese growth for 20 years and escape easily from debt
Raymond Cheung and Mike Waterson
World Economics, March 2011
Price indexes are the most important of all economic indicators simply because they are the tool used to calculate the real size, speed and direction of all forms of economic activity. Price indexes are compiled almost everywhere, but with major differences in method and sampling procedures. Some methods and procedures have led to significant errors. Even in the case of a country as advanced as Japan, critics have calculated that imperfections in method have led to a rate of price inflation around 1.8% per year above the level a true cost of living index would have shown. Further research undertaken by World Economics has attempted to make estimates for changes in discounting and promotional practices at the retail level. The conclusion is that, in reality, the overestimation of price changes by the Japanese CPI in recent years may well have been in excess of 2% per annum, and could have been significantly more. Different CPI assumptions change economic growth estimates dramatically. Using World Economics estimates, adding in a minimum figure for marketing and retail changes seen in recent years suggests, contrary to official data, that Japanese consumption growth exceeded that of the US.
Keywords: Cost of living, CPI, Growth, Hedonic regression, Inflation, Inflation, Japan, Measurement, National accounts, Pension reform, Price deflators, Price index, Price level, Prices, Prices, Prices, Quality of life, RPI, RPIX, Statistics, US, USA
Clearing the Fog: How useful are short-term economic indicators?
& James Ashley
, World Economics, June 2010
Official statistical agencies produce a number of data series that are more timely and of higher frequency than the published estimates of GDP growth. There are also numerous private-sector measures and surveys that provide a running commentary on economic developments. In this article we assess the extent to which the major economic indicators in the UK, US and euro area can be used to reduce uncertainty about the prevailing pace of economic growth. We find that, whatever timely indicators are used, uncertainty about GDP growth in the current quarter and in the recent past remains high, but that the most consistent stand-alone indicator of contemporaneous activity is industrial production. However, the low share of industry in the economic output of ‘industrialised’ economies means that sole reliance on IP as an indicator in predominantly services-based economies is unsatisfactory. We are, therefore, drawn towards the conclusion that more timely indicators of services activity – both in the form of official data and business surveys – would be helpful.
Maddison and Wu: ‘Measuring China’s Economic Performance’
& Eric V. Swanson
, World Economics, March 2010
Angus Maddison and Harry Wu (2008) claim that, in 2003, China’s GDP was 73% of that of the United States on a purchasing power parity (PPP) basis. Rejecting the results of the 2005 International Comparison Program (ICP), they construct their own PPP using a 1986 GDP estimate for China (Ren & Chen 1995) which they adjust upwards, and then extrapolate to 2003 using their revised growth rates for China, which they adjust downwards. This note examines the validity of their adjustments and assumptions, and finds them to be inconsistent with recommendations both from the perspective of index number theory and recommended national accounting practices. The 2005 PPP estimates from the ICP, which Maddison and Wu reject, produce a more plausible estimate of the size of China’s economy relative to that of the US (43% in 2005).
Keywords: China, China, Consistency, Exchange rates, Inflation, Inflation, National accounts, PPP, Price level, Prices, Prices, Real GDP
Measuring Nations’ Economic Performance: The Report of the Commission on Economic Performance and Social Progress
F. Gerard Adams
, World Economics, December 2009
The Report of the Commission on Economic Performance and Social Progress considers the issues of establishing a broader measure of human well-being than the per capita GDP currently used. The report evaluates the possibilities for expanding the GDP concept and other measures of well-being, and for evaluating sustainability. The Commission recognises that it will not be possible to rely on one measure, recommending the use of a dashboard of various measures, including adjusted net saving.
International Comparisons of GDP: Is there an alternative to PPPs to obtain real GDP estimates?
, World Economics, September 2008
The recent publication by the World Bank of PPP-GDP estimates for 2005, referred to 146 countries, seems a good occasion to reopen the long-standing debate on the use of Purchasing Power Parities. While theoretical speculations on the subject have continued, no estimates were supplied for more than a decade. The author’s alternative method for GDP estimation is based on inflationadjusted long-term exchange rates, where real GDP estimates are obtained through simultaneous equations. He describes the method in the light of his experience and compares its results for 100 countries with both ICP estimates and GDPs at exchange rates.
Measuring China’s Economic Performance
Andreas (Andy) Jobst
& Harry X. Wu
, World Economics, June 2008
China is the world’s fastest growing economy and is also the second largest. However, the official estimates of the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics exaggerate GDP growth and need adjustment to conform to international norms as set out in the 1993 System of National Accounts (SNA). This paper presents and discusses the necessary adjustments. The two major contributions are new volume indices for the industrial sector and for "non-material" services. Finally, in order to measure the level of Chinese GDP in internationally comparable terms, the authors use a measure of purchasing power parity (PPP) instead of the exchange rate.
Keywords: China, China, Consistency, Exchange rates, GDP, Inflation, Inflation, PPP, Price level, Prices, Prices, Real GDP
Economic Forecasts: Too smooth by far?
& Jair Rodriguez
, World Economics, June 2008
Will the US and other economies slip into recessions this year? Which economies will decouple from a global slowdown? The authors suggest that the excessive caution shown by private sector forecasters limits the usefulness of their forecasts in answering these questions. Using growth forecasts for 14 major economies from 1990 onwards, they demonstrate that revisions made to forecast are extremely smooth. An implication of this smoothness is that forecasters do not call a recession until fairly late in the year in which the recession occurs. They are also slow to absorb news about developments outside their own economies, limiting the ability of the growth forecasts to predict the extent of decoupling.
Measures of Progress and Other Tall Stories: From income to anthropometrics
& Brian Snowdon
, World Economics, June 2005
How should progress be measured? Today, economists and economic historians have available a rich array of data for a large number of countries on which to base their response to this important question. The need for alternative measures of the standard of living is particularly important for economic historians exploring the distant past where conventional estimates cannot be calculated. In this paper John Komlos and Brian Snowdon review several alternative measures of ‘progress’, both orthodox and unorthodox, including recent findings from ‘anthropometric’ history. The field of Anthropometrics blends history, economics, biology, medical science and physical anthropology and is now well established having helped to clarify ‘several questions important to economic historians’ including those related to slavery, mortality, inequality, and living standards during industrialisation. While malnutrition is the scourge of poor countries, obesity has become a major problem in many developed countries, particularly during the last quarter century. Research into the economics of obesity is now a burgeoning research area and the authors briefly review some of the major findings. Finally, Komlos and Snowdon comment on the recent literature on ‘happiness’. The achievement of a higher GDP per capita is, after all, not an end in itself, but a means to an end, that is, human happiness.
International Comparisons of GDP: Issues of theory and practice
& David Henderson
, World Economics, March 2005
When it comes to making international comparisons of real GDP, different views,
conventions and practices are still in evidence. The authors set out the case for
using purchasing power parity (PPP) converters for this purpose, rather than
conversions based on exchange rates, and give reasons for rejecting various
arguments that are still widely made to the contrary. In doing so, they provide
instances of the differing current practices of international agencies, and argue
the case for greater uniformity and consistency on their part. They make a
number of suggestions, general and specific, for improving the quality and
presentation of cross-country comparative data.
Is Economic Growth Good For Us?
, World Economics, September 2003
This article reviews Britain’s experience of economic growth in the twentieth
century. It argues that average living standards have risen much more rapidly than
is generally appreciated. The main reasons for this include increased life
expectancy which is highly valued by the public and downward bias in
conventional estimates introduced by traditional price deflators which do not
measure the true cost of living. The main policy implication of this analysis is the
need to think about the value of outcomes if appropriate public expenditure
policies are to be implemented.
"There Will Be Growth in the Spring": How credible are forecasts of recovery?
, World Economics, March 2002
Forecasters are currently echoing Chauncey Gardner’s words that “There will be
growth in the spring”. Or certainly by the summer. Are such forecasts credible?
Yes. This article presents evidence that private sector forecasters have done a
reasonably good job of forecasting recoveries in industrialised countries over the 1990s. Since recessions in these countries have tended to last under a year,
forecasting a recovery in the following year has turned out to be a pretty good
bet. However, a few recessions do end up lasting longer than a year: when that
happens, the evidence suggests that forecasters are caught flat-footed.
Wealth as a Criterion for Sustainable Development
& Karl-Göran Mäler
, World Economics, September 2001
In this article the authors define sustainable development as an economic
programme along which social well-being does not decline over time. It can be
shown that the requirement is equivalent to the maintenance of a comprehensive
measure of wealth, where an economy’s wealth is defined to be the social worth
of its entire array of capital assets, including natural capital. Using data published by the World Bank on the world’s poorest regions, countries which would be regarded as having performed well if judged on the basis of such indices as GNP
per head or the Human Development Index are found to have grown poorer, a few alarmingly so.
Wanted: Measures of Economic Change
, World Economics, June 2001
Economic growth may involve change, but there can be change without
economic growth insofar as outputs of some products or employment in some
regions or industries grows while there are equal decreases elsewhere. National
accounts data do not reveal such shifts, yet they may involve investment and
disinvestment, require the acquisition of new skills and cause changes in the
location of economic activities. Some simple examples are provided,
demonstrating that the rate of growth and the pace of change are by no means
perfectly correlated. Hence separate measures of change are required if we are to
understand what is happening in the economy.
How Clear is the Crystal Ball?: Reflections on the accuracy of growth forecasts
, World Economics, March 2001
Two salie nt features of growth forecasts are discussed. First, recessions generally arrive before the forecast. Slowdowns are predicted but forecasters are unable or unwilling to call recessions. Second, private sector forecasts tend to be similar to those of official agencies. Some tips for forecast users are provided.
Reply to Professor Zimmermann
, World Economics, September 2000
Giles Atkinson replies to Professor Zimmermann’s "A Multi-coloured GDP -or No New GDP at All?"[World Economics, Vol 1 No 3 July-September 2000]
A Multi-coloured GDP -or No New GDP at All?
, World Economics, September 2000
This is a reply to Giles Atkinson’s article ‘Re-thinking Economic Progress’ that appeared in the first issue of World Economics (Vol. 1, No. 1, January – March 2000). Atkinson discussed proposals for the construction of ‘green’ alternatives to Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In the same issue, Amanda Rowlatt in her article ‘Extending the UK National Accounts’, discussed the role of ‘satellite accounts’, including measures of effects on the environment. Professor Zimmermann’s contention is that the concept of a ‘green GDP’ would lead to a one-sided measure which cannot be used for the many purposes for which normal GDP as a comprehensive measure can be used. A GDP corrected for depletion of environmental stocks would have to be supplemented by one corrected for changes in human capital, another one dealing with health capital, etc. Completing the set leads to the older concept of Net Economic Welfare or something similar. Only this would again be a comprehensive measure and could replace GDP.
The Black Economy - Benefit frauds or tax evaders?
, World Economics, March 2000
One answer to the question "How Rich are We?" is to compare levels of National Income either across countries or for a single country over time. However, the relevance of this approach depends on how accurately National Income measures the output of goods and services of a country. While it is difficult to measure, the Black Economy represents the output of goods and services that is not generally captured in the National Income Accounts. This article discusses the problems of measuring the size of the Black Economy and speculates on the questions of who is involved and how. The relative importance of Tax Evasion versus Benefit Fraud is discussed.
Re-thinking Economic Progress
, World Economics, March 2000
Most national governments have pledged a commitment to sustainable development. The transformation of these pledges into policy is a formidable challenge. Of particular interest are proposals for the construction of green alternatives to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which it is hoped will provide policy-makers with a consistent and summary signal of "true" trends in the economy both now and into the future. This paper reviews the green accounting debate over the past decade. the author argues that, while initial expectations have, at times, been overstated, there are encouraging signs for policy-makers attempting to make sense of their commitments to sustainable development. One such indication is the increasing emphasis on improved measures of saving, providing a better link between actions in the present and their implications for the future.