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This dataset presents information using an "indicator" approach, focusing on cross-country comparisons. The aim is to make the accounts more accessible and informative, whilst taking the opportunity to present the conceptual underpinning and comparability issues of each of the indicators presented.
The range of indicators is set deliberately wide to reflect the richness of the national accounts dataset and to encourage users of economic statistics to refocus some of the spotlight that is often placed on GDP to other important economic indicators, which may better respond to their needs. Indeed many users themselves have been instrumental in this regard. The report of the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress (Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Commission) is but one notable example.
That is not to undermine the importance of GDP, which arguably remains the most important measure of total economic activity, but other measures may better reflect other aspects of the economy. For example, net national income may be a more appropriate measure of income available to citizens in countries with large outflows of property income, and household adjusted disposable income per capita may be a better indicator of the material well-being of citizens. But certainly from a data perspective more can and remains to be done. The Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Commission for example highlights the pressing need for the provision, by official statistics institutes, of more detailed information that better describes the distributional aspects of activity, especially income, and the need to build on the national accounts framework to address issues such as non-market services produced by households or leisure. It is hoped that by producing a publication such as this and thereby raising awareness, the momentum from this and other initiatives will be accelerated. The publication itself will pick up new indicators in the future as they become available at the OECD.