BEA is developing tools to better capture the effects of fast-changing technologies on the U.S. economy and on global supply chains. The project seeks to calculate the digital economy's contribution to U.S. GDP, improve measures of high-tech goods and services, and offer a more complete picture of international trade. Other goals are to advance research for digital goods and services, the sharing economy and free digital content, and to explore economic measures beyond GDP to better understand Americans' well-being.
Toward a Digital Economy Satellite Account
In March 2018, BEA released, for the first time, preliminary statistics and an accompanying report exploring the size and growth of the digital economy. BEA includes in its definition of the digital economy three major types of goods and services:
- the digital-enabling infrastructure needed for an interconnected computer network to exist and operate
- the e-commerce transactions that take place using that system
- digital media, which is the content that digital economy users create and access.
Because of the limitations of available data, BEA's initial estimates include only goods and services that are "primarily digital." This means that some components of the digital economy, like peer-to-peer (P2P) e-commerce, also known as the sharing economy, are excluded from the initial estimates. P2P transactions such as ride-sharing services rely on internet-enabled devices to match supply and demand, but also have a non-digital component of in-person provision of services. BEA is continuing to work towards expanding the coverage of the estimates as we work toward a digital economy satellite account.
- Working Paper: Defining and Measuring the Digital Economy
- Data for 2005–2016 XLSX
- Infographic: How Big is the Digital Economy? PDF and image PNG
- How do the initial digital economy measures compare with industry economic impact reports and BEA satellite accounts?
- Can the initial digital economy estimates show how much the digital economy contributed to the overall economy as a percent of GDP?
- What is gross output by industry and how does it differ from gross domestic product (or value added) by industry?
- What is a satellite account?
- How is the digital economy captured in the core statistics currently produced by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)?
- How does BEA define the digital economy?
- What is missing from the digital economy estimates?
- How are free social media, email, and other ad-supported Internet services included in the BEA digital economy estimates?
BEA would like input from users to refine these estimates and further the effort to develop a comprehensive digital economy satellite account. BEA is requesting feedback on the following questions:
- Does the definition proposed by BEA accurately define the digital economy?
- What goods and services not captured in the current definition of the digital economy should BEA consider in scope for the digital economy satellite account? Are there goods and services currently included in the definition that should not be included?
- What datasets could BEA use to estimate in-scope shares of partially digital goods and services?
- Who would use these new statistics and what would they use them for (please provide specific examples)?
- Beyond statistics on value added, output, employment, and compensation, what other types of digital economy statistics would be useful?
- Why are these new statistics needed? What benefits would flow to users from BEA-produced statistics in this area that they couldn't get elsewhere?
Please email all comments to DigitalEconomy@bea.gov.
International Trade in ICT and Potentially ICT-Enabled Services
BEA's statistics on trade in information and communications technology (ICT) and potentially ICT-enabled services complement its standard presentation of international trade in services statistics by examining the extent to which ICT may be used to facilitate trade in services. ICT services are those used to facilitate information processing and communication; potentially ICT-enabled services are services that can predominantly be delivered remotely over ICT networks. BEA measures potentially ICT-enabled services rather than ICT-enabled services themselves because for many types of services the actual mode of delivery is unknown.
- Trends in U.S. Trade in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Services and in ICT-Enabled Services PDF
Alexis Grimm - Survey of Current Business May 2016
- U.S. International Services Trade in Services in 2016 and Services Supplied Through Affiliates in 2015 PDF
Survey of Current Business October 2017 - includes a section on ICT and potentially ICT-enabled services.
- Paper: Trends in Digitally-Enabled Trade in Services PDF
Price Measurement of High-Tech Goods and Services
BEA is consistently working toward improving price measurement, especially for high-tech goods and services which frequently experience changing characteristics, improved quality, and price changes relative to other goods and services.
- Implications of Consumer Heterogeneity on Price Measures for Technology Goods
by Adam Hale Shapiro and Ana Aizcorbe | August 2010
- Why Are Semiconductor Price Indexes Falling So Fast?: Industry Estimates and Implications for Productivity Measurement
by Ana Aizcorbe | September 2005
- Differences in Hedonic and Matched-Model Price Indexes: Do the Weights Matter?
by Ana Aizcorbe and Yvon Pho | September 2005
- Price Deflators for High Technology Goods and the New Buyer Problem
Other Research and Information
- Value of Data: There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch in the Digital Economy PDF
by Wendy C.Y. Li, Makoto Nirei, and Kazufumi Yamana | February 2019
- Is Productivity on Vacation? The Impact of the Digital Economy on the Value of Leisure PDF
by Benjamin Bridgman | February 2018
- Measuring the "Free" Digital Economy within the GDP and Productivity Accounts PDF
by Leonard Nakamura, Jon Samuels, and Rachel Soloveichik | October 2017
- Valuing 'Free' Media in GDP: An Experimental Approach PDF
by Leonard Nakamura, Jon Samuels and Rachel Soloveichik | June 2016
What is the Digital Economy?
Measures the digital economy's contribution to U.S. GDP, improves measures of high-tech goods and services, and offers a more complete picture of international trade. Includes valuing digital-enabling infrastructure, e-commerce transactions, and digital media.Learn More