Austrian National Accounts in Accordance with ESA 1995
By the autumn of 1999, the Austrian Central Statistical Office ÖSTAT will have switched to the European System of National Accounts in the Community (ESA 1995) in tabulating and publishing its national accounts. The system, mandated for all EU member states by a Council Regulation, replaces ESA 1979. In addition to extensive changes of concept, which have, in some aspects, a substantial impact on GDP level, changes have also been made in the way the national accounts are presented and in the system's terminology. At the same time, the price basis was changed over from 1983 to 1995. The use of new statistical data, which had not previously been available, similarly impacted on the level and growth figures for GDP. The greatest quantitative effect of applying the new ESA 1995 is caused by its inclusion of software and copyrights in the definition of investments, and by its calculation of depreciation of capital assets designed for public use, such as roads, bridges and sewers. In addition, the value added by economic activities is now calculated at the cost of production. As a result, taxes on production are no longer viewed as company revenues but as payments by consumers to the state. The introduction of sector accounts allows the implementation of a production account, use of income account and distribution of income account for corporations (which have been broken down into financial and non-financial corporations), government, private households and the rest of the world. Provision has also been made to calculate the national income in real terms, adjusted by terms-of-trade effects, which is a better yardstick for comparing a country's welfare on an international scale than the real GDP previously used. Altogether, the nominal GDP has not changed much by the switch to ESA 1995 since the conceptional innovations, which in their majority boost the level of GDP, were almost counterbalanced by statistical revisions. Real GDP, on the other hand, has substantially increased by the change to a new base year. The time series published so far are still too short to assess the effects of the change on the business cycle, but growth is shown to be unchanged for 1996, higher for 1998 and lower for 1997. The small number of published annual values temporarily aggravates the tabulation of models and seasonal adjustments of quarterly figures. ÖSTAT will, however, supply recalculated accounts back to 1988 in the autumn of 2000. WIFO intends to change the forecasts and the quarterly accounts to the new ESA 1995 in December 1999.
Die Volkswirtschaftliche Gesamtrechnung nach dem ESVG 1995; Austrian National Accounts in Accordance with ESA 1995
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