The COVID-19 Outbreak and National Accounts - Some Remarks on Selected Aspects
The outbreak of COVID-19 has had severe impacts on the ability of statistical authorities to compile national accounts data in the usual way. There is a lack of usually available primary information and a need to deal with a number of new policy measures taken in the context of the COVID-19 crisis. At the same time, the new situation may be an incentive to reconsider some of the basic concepts of national accounts and the way these concepts are operationalised.
The emphasis of this contribution is laid on the concepts of production and of volume measurement of production. Two examples were chosen: a) the implications of changes in the travel habits, in particular of holders of season tickets and b) the reduced number of spectators allowed in theatrical and opera performances. As shown, the methodological alternatives for dealing with these changes offered in the European legislation might lead to quite different results. The two examples reveal that similar situations are treated rather differently.
The examples also indicate that the methodological alternatives pursue different concepts of production. In order to make adequate use of national accounts, empirical economists need to be well informed about the definitions and processes that lead to the data under usual conditions and in particular under exceptional circumstances such as the COVID-19 crisis.
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