National Economic Accounts

The National Economic Accounts (NEA) provide a simplified picture of a very complex economic reality—the economy.

The NEA are a subset of the Canadian System of Macroeconomic Accounts. Their focus is on measuring production, incomes, consumption, saving, investment, financing and wealth. Macroeconomic indicators such as gross domestic product, national saving, disposable income and national net worth are key aggregates that fall out of the system.

Production related statistics such as output, intermediate consumption and gross valued added are measured by industry, whereas the income, the use of income for consumption or the acquisition of assets, financing and wealth are measured by institutional sector (households, non-profit institutions serving households, general government, non-financial corporations, financial corporations and non-residents).

Components of the NEA are published on an annual, quarterly and monthly basis. The annual series date from 1926 while the quarterly series date from 1947, although continuous time series from those dates are not currently available due to changes in concepts at various times since the accounts were first introduced. Continuous quarterly time-series are currently available from 1981 onwards.

Understanding economy-wide activity emerged as a vital interest following the Great Depression of the 1930s. This event is viewed as a catalyst for the development of macroeconomics in which a key principle, advanced by Keynes in his framework for analysis, was that economic downturns were generally characterized by insufficient aggregate demand.

Subsequent research in this area, in turn, spawned a need for new information on the macroeconomy. The emergence of national accounting as a discipline, including the development of the NEA in Canada, was in direct response to this need.

Since its first regular appearance in 1952, the NEA—featuring gross domestic product (GDP) as the central aggregate—has become indispensable for macroeconomic analysis in Canada. As the name suggests, the focus of the NEA is income arising from production and final expenditure on that production. As the principal indicator of economic performance, GDP and its related detail (such as consumption, investment, saving and the detailed transactions of institutional sectors) are key to understanding Canadian macroeconomic activity.

The Canadian NEA are compiled using the "System of National Accounts 2008" (SNA2008) as the organizing framework. The SNA2008 provides the internationally recommended concepts, classifications and methods to measure wealth, production, income, saving, investment and financial transactions. The use of the SNA2008 ensures that the Canadian National Economic Accounts are comparable with those of other countries such as the United States, Australia, Great Britain, France and Germany.

The Canadian National Economic Accounts are grouped into the following categories:

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