BEA's initial measures of the digital economy are prepared within an economic accounting framework that is fully consistent with how the GDP accounts for the Nation are constructed. This framework also underpins the estimates of BEA's “satellite accounts,” such as that for arts and cultural production, outdoor recreation, and for travel and tourism. These initial estimates include measures of gross output, value added, compensation of employees and employment for subgroups of the digital economy and the overall digital economy.

Conceptually, a digital economy satellite account should include all good and services related to the digital economy. However, BEA’s preliminary digital economy estimates exclude any goods and services categories that have any non-digital components. The challenges of estimating the economic contribution of these “partially-digital” goods and services led to the decision to present preliminary estimates based only on goods and services categories that are primarily digital. While there is not yet a digital economy satellite account, these initial estimates of the digital economy are the first step toward such an account.

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