A Primer on Gross National Product Concepts and Issues

GGD-81-47: Published: Apr 8, 1981. Publicly Released: Apr 8, 1981.

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The national income and product accounts, summarized by the gross national product (GNP), provide a broad overview of economic activity and are among the most widely used Federal economic statistics. Since Federal policymakers use GNP in making decisions which affect billions of dollars, it is important that congressional and executive branch policymakers have reasonably accurate data on which to base these decisions. The Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis prepares GNP estimates constructed from numerous data series collected by Federal and private sources quarterly and annually. Any single GNP estimate is subject to at least seven revisions to incorporate subsequently available and revised source data. Motivated by substantial revisions to GNP estimates in the early 1970's, independent national accounts experts evaluated the underlying source data and found many areas in need of improvement. Some changes have been made concerning conceptual matters recommended by these experts, but unresolved issues still exist.

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