Digital Economy

Digital EconomyBEA is developing tools to better capture the effects of fast-changing technologies on the U.S. economy and on global supply chains. BEA's work seeks to calculate the digital economy's contribution to U.S. GDP, offer a more nuanced picture of international trade, and improve measures of high-tech goods and services. 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.

BEA's digital economy work includes:

 

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.

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.

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.

Other Research and Information

Contact Us

Email DigitalEconomy@bea.gov with comments or questions, or call Jessica Nicholson at (301) 278-9171.

Feedback Opportunity

BEA would like input from users to refine our initial digital economy estimates of GDP, output, employment, and compensation in hopes of furthering 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.

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