Sources & Methods

The 2020 National Accounts benchmark revision was implemented on Friday, 28th August.

1. What is a benchmark revision?
A benchmark revision is a major revision to macroeconomic data that occurs on a regular basis to incorporate new data sources or estimation methods.

2. How does a benchmark revision differ from other revisions?
Most macroeconomic data is revised to update initial estimates and provide a more accurate reading of economic developments. There are two types of revisions: routine revisions and major revisions. Routine revisions occur regularly, in many cases with each new data vintage that is published, and generally involve updating estimates with more accurate, although less timely data. Major revisions can be further subdivided into major ad hoc revisions and major regular revisions, with the latter also referred to as benchmark revisions.

Major ad hoc revisions take place when the need arises, generally resulting from methodological changes, such as the introduction of a new European System of Accounts (ESA) and changes in classifications, or special events, such as a European Union enlargement. Major regular revisions, on the other hand, occur recurrently, generally every five to ten years, to incorporate changes in data sources or estimation techniques.

3. When was the last benchmark revision held?
The last benchmark revision took place in October 2014 and was integrated with a major ad hoc revision which saw the introduction of ESA 2010.

4. What is the time span of this benchmark revision?
To provide consistent data, the entire time series has been updated. Therefore, revisions to nominal data (data at market prices) extend back to 1995, while real data (data in chain-linked volumes) has been revised to the year 2000.

5. Will this benchmark revision affect the quality of national accounts data?
This benchmark revision will continue to improve the accuracy of national accounts data and will harmonise further the data with that of other countries, thus allowing for better international comparability.

6. What are the main enhancements this benchmark revision has brought about?
This benchmark revision has led to a number of enhancements, the most notable of which are: the publication, for the first time, of GDP data in chain-linked volumes from the production approach; Supply, Use and Input-Output Tables (SUIOT) for 2013, 2014 and 2015; the implementation of recommendations emerging from the ESA 1995 and ESA 2010 verification cycles; the incorporation of new data sources, including the last Household Budgetary Survey; the adoption of refined estimation methods; and the cross-classification of fixed assets by industry and by asset (stocks), and the non-financial assets balance sheet by institutional sector.

Routine revisions were also included for the reference periods covering 2016Q1 to 2020Q2, most importantly, the incorporation of the Structural Business Statistics survey results of 2016.

7. How have the headline GDP figures been revised?
As a result of these enhancements, annual nominal GDP has increased, on average, by 1.3 per cent between 1995 and 2019. With regard to growth rates, GDP growth in nominal terms has been revised by 0.0 percentage points (i.e. upward revisions have broadly offset downward revisions), on average, between 1995 and 2019. Revisions to GDP growth in real terms also averaged 0.0 percentage points between 2000 and 2019.

8. Are there any changes in the format of the GDP News Release?
Although the layout remains similar to that of previous News Releases, there are two main changes. First, the publication will now include two tables for the production approach instead of one: Table 1a showing data in nominal terms, and Table 1b with data in real terms. Second, for consistency’s sake, what was previously Table 4 (Expenditure approach at chain-linked volumes) is now Table 2b.

9. Where can I find further details on the benchmark revision?
Additional information on the benchmark revision, as well as annual data from 1995 to 2019 at market prices, annual data from 2000 to 2019 in chain-linked volumes, and quarterly data for the most recent years, can be found in the Gross Domestic Product News Releases.

Detailed methodological information on the different enhancements incorporated in this benchmark revision can be found here.

For further information, users are invited to contact the National Statistics Office at [email protected].

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