This page provides links to the methodologies used to prepare BEA's National, Industry, Regional, and International accounts data.

Note: These methodologies are periodically refined to incorporate new and better source data and improved estimating procedures. The refinements are described in articles in BEA's monthly Survey of Current Business (SCB) that present annual or comprehensive revisions to the estimates.


National

NIPA Handbook: Concepts and Methods of the U.S. National Income and Product Accounts

The "NIPA Handbook" begins with introductory chapters that describe the fundamental concepts, definitions, classifications, and accounting framework that underlie the national income and product accounts (NIPAs) of the United States and the general sources and methods that are used to prepare the NIPA estimates.
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Measuring the Economy: A Primer on GDP and the National Income and Product Accounts

This paper introduces new users to the basics of the U.S. national income and product accounts (NIPAs). It discusses the economic concepts that underlie the NIPAs, and it describes the seven NIPA summary accounts. The Primer also provides a brief overview of the derivation of the NIPA measures and a list of references for further information.
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Updated Summary NIPA Methodologies

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) has recently improved its estimates of current-dollar gross domestic product (GDP), current-dollar gross domestic income (GDI), and real GDP as part of the 2017 annual update of the national income and product accounts (NIPAs). The sources of data and the methodologies that are now used to prepare the NIPA estimates are summarized in this report.
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The Revisions to GDP, GDI, and Their Major Components

The national income and product accounts (NIPAs) provide a timely, comprehensive, and accurate picture of the condition of the U.S. economy. The two featured measures, gross domestic product (GDP) and gross domestic income (GDI), are measures of the same concept of total activity in the U.S. economy. GDP measures activity as the sum of all final expenditures in the economy; it is detailed on the product side of the domestic income and product account. GDI measures activity as the sum of all incomes generated in production; it is detailed on the income side of the account.

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Gross Domestic Product and Gross Domestic Income: Revisions and Source Data

This article analyzes the source data used to prepare the GDP estimates and the GDI estimates according to a set of criteria that reflects the quality, the availability, and the use of the data. This analysis allows for a better understanding of the differences between the source data that underlie the GDP estimates and those that underlie the GDI estimates and illustrates how the incorporation of the increasingly detailed and comprehensive source data leads to revisions to the GDP estimates and to the GDI estimates.

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Taking the Pulse of the Economy: Measuring GDP

This article provides a broad overview of the measurement techniques used in estimating GDP and the national accounts in the United States.
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A Primer on BEA's Government Accounts

This article provides an overview of the government accounts. It describes the basic structure and concepts and provides a broad discussion on how the estimate are prepared. It concludes with a discussion of future directions for BEA’s government accounts.
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MP-1: An Introduction to the National Income and Product Accounts

This paper provides a comprehensive explanation of the conceptual basis and framework of the U.S. national income and product accounts (NIPAs). It describes the structure and purpose of the U.S. economic accounts, discusses the relationship between business and financial accounting and national economic accounting, and presents a derivation of the seven NIPA summary accounts from generalized production, income and outlay, and capital accounts for each sector of the economy.
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Housing Services in the National Economic Accounts

Housing services are a component of personal consumption expenditures (PCE), and consequently part of GDP, in the national income and product accounts (NIPAs). The rental value of tenant-occupied housing and the imputed rental value of owner-occupied housing are both part of PCE housing services, reflecting the amount of money tenants spend for the service of shelter and the amount of money owner occupants would have spent had they been renting. Owner-occupied housing is included in PCE because the NIPAs treat the owner-occupant as if it were a rental business, or in other words, a landlord renting to him or herself. That is, BEA imputes a value for the services of owner-occupied housing (space rent) based on the rents charged for similar tenant-occupied housing, and this value is included in GDP as part of personal consumption expenditures. This imputation is necessary in order for GDP to be invariant when housing units shift between tenant occupancy and owner occupancy.
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Chained-Dollar Indexes: Issues, Tips on Their Use, and Upcoming Changes

This article discusses the advantages of chain-weighted indexes and the challenges posed by chained dollars, outlines further steps that BEA will be taking to address these issues in the 2003 comprehensive revision of the national income and product accounts (NIPAs), and provides suggestions for using chained dollars in ways that reduce biases and errors in forecasting and other applications where components need to be aggregated. Highlights of this article include the following:

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A Note on the Impact of Hedonics and Computers on Real GDP

A review of the data on hedonic price indexes and their impact on real GDP growth shows no evidence of an overstatement in the measured decline in computer prices. The hedonic price indexes for computers produce results that are quite robust and that are virtually the same as those produced by a carefully constructed traditional price index for computers.
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Preview: BEA's New Featured Measures of Output and Prices

One major improvement in the upcoming NIPA revision will be the introduction of new featured measures of real output and prices. These measures, which will be chain-type indexes, will provide a more accurate picture of economic activity by allowing for changes in relative prices and in the composition of output over time. To facilitate sectoral trend and current-period analysis, BEA will expand the presentations of its estimates to include the contributions of major components to the growth in real GDP and dollar-denominated series that are calculated from the featured output indexes.

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Alternative Measures of Change in Real Output and Prices, Quarterly Estimates of 1959-92

This article presents quarterly estimates of the alternative measures of change in real output and prices that BEA introduced in April 1992.l It also updates the annual estimates for 1988-90 to incorporate the results of the annual revision of the national income and product accounts (NIPA's) in July 1992 and extends the annual estimates to 1991.2 The alternative measures, which supplement BEA's featured fixed-weighted measures, are especially useful for studies of long-term economic growth, for comparisons of business cycles, and for gauging the effect of changes in the economy's relative

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Economic Theory and BEA's Alternative Quantity and Price Indexes

This article describes the index number theory underlying these alternative indexes and discusses the interpretation of them.
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Alternative Measures of Change in Real Output and Prices

This article and the one that follows it, "Economic Theory and BEA 's Alternative Quantity and Price Indexes," present results of BEA's work on alternative measures of production and prices. These measures, which are designed to supplement BEA's featured fixed weighted measures, were first described in "Alternative Measures of Real GNP" in the April 1989 Survey of Current Business; in that article, BEA stated that it would develop the alternative measures as part of the next comprehensive revision of the national income and product accounts.

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Gross Domestic Product as a Measure of U.S. Production

The current MP-5 comes seventeen years after the previous Government Transactions methodology paper, which was published in November 1988. It reflects improved estimation methodologies and it provides descriptions of new and better source data that are used to prepare estimates of government transactions. Most revisions to the sources and methods used to prepare estimates of government transactions presented in this revised MP-5 were described initially in articles that discussed comprehensive and annual NIPA revisions in BEA’s monthly journal, the Survey of Current Business.
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International

U.S. International Economic Accounts: Concepts and Methods

This volume provides a description of the major concepts and estimation methods used for the preparation of the U.S. international economic accounts.

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Summary of Major Revisions to the U.S. International Accounts, 1976-2009

This catalog summarizes the major statistical and methodological improvements to the U.S. international accounts for 1976-2008. Detailed discussions of these improvements were previously presented at the time of the annual revisions, but the discussions appear over many issues of the Survey of Current Business (SCB) for thirty years. This listing by year and subject matter provides an index of these improvements in one location.

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Foreign Direct Investment in the United States: Final Results From the 2012 Benchmark Survey

This volume presents the results of the 2012 Benchmark Survey of Foreign Direct Investment that was conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). Benchmark surveys are BEA’s most comprehensive surveys—in terms of both the number of companies covered and the amount of information gathered. The 2012 survey covered the foreign direct investment universe, which consists of all U.S. business enterprises owned 10 percent or more, directly or indirectly, by a foreign person. The last benchmark survey covered 2007.

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Worldwide Activities of U.S. Multinational Enterprises: Revised Results From the 2014 Benchmark Survey

This publication presents the final results of the 2014 Benchmark Survey of U.S. Direct Investment Abroad (USDIA) that was conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Benchmark surveys are BEA’s most comprehensive surveys, in terms of both the number of companies covered and the amount of information gathered. The 2014 survey covered the universe of U.S. direct investment abroad, which consists of all foreign business enterprises owned 10 percent or more, directly or indirectly, by a U.S. investor. The last U.S.

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Industry

Measuring the Nation's Economy: An Industry Perspective | A Primer on BEA's Industry Accounts

This paper introduces new users to the basics of the U.S. industry economic accounts. It provides an overview of each of BEA’s industry accounts and how they may be used to answer a variety of questions about the U.S. economy, industry activity, and the flow of goods and services throughout the economy.

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Preparing the Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account

The Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account (ORSA) measures the size of the outdoor recreation economy and the link between outdoor recreation and the broader United States economy. Like other satellite accounts, the ORSA was built on BEA’s comprehensive supply-use framework. The supply-use tables provide a detailed look at the relationships among industries and how each industry contributes to Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In practice, the ORSA is a rearrangement of the published supply-use tables that isolates outdoor recreation spending and production.

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Concepts and Methods of the U.S. Input-Output Accounts

The “Input-Output Handbook” describes the concepts and methods that underlie the preparation of the benchmark input-output (I-O) accounts of the United States.
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Regional

State Personal Income and Employment: Concepts, Data Sources, and Statistical Methods

This guide presents the conceptual framework, the data sources, and the statistical methods used by the Regional Income Division of the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) to estimate personal income and employment for states.
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Local Area Personal Income and Employment Methodology

This guide presents the conceptual framework, the data sources, and the statistical methods used by the Regional Income Division of the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) to estimate personal income and employment for local areas, that is, for counties, metropolitan statistical areas, and other county aggregates.
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Real Personal Income and Regional Price Parities

This article describes the source data and methods used by the Bureau of Economic Analysis to estimate regional price parities (RPPs) and real personal income. These are estimated annually for states, state portions metropolitan statistical areas, and the combined nonmetropolitan portion of the United States.
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Gross Domestic Product by State Estimation Methodology

This volume presents the conceptual framework, the data sources, and the statistical methodologies used by the Regional Product Division of the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) to estimate gross domestic product (GDP) by industry for all U.S. states for 1963–2016. GDP by state is the state equivalent of GDP for the nation.
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Gross Domestic Product by Metropolitan Area

This document presents the methodology used by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) to produce its annual Gross domestic product (GDP) by metropolitan area statistics. In 2007, BEA began officially producing these statistics on an annual basis for use in both the public and private sectors, representing an important milestone for a research project begun in 2001.
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Regional Input-Output Modeling System (RIMS II) User's Guide

The Regional Input-Output Modeling System (RIMS II) user's guide provides practical advice on the appropriate use of the RIMS II model as well as an explanation of the Input-Output framework and RIMS II model assumptions.
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Satellite Accounts

Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account Methodology

This paper details the methodology for the inaugural outdoor recreation satellite account (ORSA) statistics released September 2018. The statistics include 2012-2016 estimates of the outdoor recreation economy’s contribution to gross domestic product (GDP), gross output, compensation, and employment. To explain the national accounting concepts used to develop the official federal statistics from which the ORSA statistics originate, the first section of this paper is derived from the existing methodology papers, "Concepts and Methods of the U.S.

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BEA's Chain Indexes, Time Series, and Measures of Long-Term Economic Growth

The release of the following estimates marks the completion of the most recent comprehensive revision of the NIPA’s: Revised NIPA estimates for 1929–58, revised estimates of reproducible tangible wealth for 1929–95, and revised and newly available NIPA estimates of selected series for 1959–96 that reflect the work undertaken to complete the 1929–58 NIPA and 1929–95 wealth estimates.

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