OECD Statistics Working Papers

The OECD Statistics Working Paper Series - managed by the OECD Statistics and Data Directorate – is designed to make available in a timely fashion and to a wider readership selected studies prepared by staff in the Secretariat or by outside consultants working on OECD projects. The papers included are of a technical, methodological or statistical policy nature and relate to statistical work relevant to the organisation. The Working Papers are generally available only in their original language - English or French - with a summary in the other.

Joint Working Papers:

Testing the evidence, how good are public sector responsiveness measures and how to improve them? (with OECD Public Governance Directorate)

Measuring Well-being and Progress in Countries at Different Stages of Development: Towards a More Universal Conceptual Framework (with OECD Development Centre)

Measuring and Assessing Job Quality: The OECD Job Quality Framework (with OECD Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs)

Forecasting GDP during and after the Great Recession: A contest between small-scale bridge and large-scale dynamic factor models (with OECD Economics Directorate)

Decoupling of wages from productivity: Macro-level facts (with OECD Economics Directorate)

Which policies increase value for money in health care? (with OECD Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs)

Compiling mineral and energy resource accounts according to the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) 2012 (with OECD Environment Directorate)


Can potential mismeasurement of the digital economy explain the post-crisis slowdown in GDP and productivity growth?

The digital economy has created some new measurement challenges for macroeconomic statistics and may have exacerbated some older ones, raising some concerns about the scope and estimation of GDP. Against a backdrop of slowing rates of measured productivity growth, this has raised questions about the conceptual basis of GDP and output, and whether current compilation methods are adequate to capture them (known as the mismeasurement hypothesis). In response to these concerns the international statistics community has reinforced efforts to investigate these concerns, chiefly under the vehicle of OECD-IMF collaboration and a newly formed Advisory Expert Group working under the auspices of the OECD’s Committee for Statistics and Statistical Policy. This paper is intended to provide momentum to these on-going efforts and to address immediate concerns about the potential scale of GDP mismeasurement in key areas where mismeasurement is often suspected. Notwithstanding the need for further work in some areas, notably with regards to cross-border transactions as well as potential mismeasurement in other macro-economic statistics, such as the consumer prices index, this paper concludes that even if mismeasurement is occurring, its scale is not sufficient to explain the widespread slowdown in measured GDP growth or multi-factor productivity growth. Nevertheless it’s important to note that this is a backward looking exercise. Even though the distortionary impact of any potential mismeasurement is currently thought to be small the growing size of digitised transactions could point to larger impacts in the future.


Keywords: mismeasurement, GDP, Productivity, prices, digitalisation
JEL: E22: Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics / Consumption, Saving, Production, Investment, Labor Markets, and Informal Economy / Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity; E1: Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics / General Aggregative Models; E24: Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics / Consumption, Saving, Production, Investment, Labor Markets, and Informal Economy / Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity; E30: Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics / Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles / Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles: General
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