Case | HBS Case Collection | December 2002

National Economic Accounting: Past, Present, and Future

by David A. Moss and Sarah A. Brennan


Presents the fundamentals of GDP accounting (including definitions, etc.), examines the history of national accounting, and surveys the international debate over "Green GDP." The first section explains the basic rules and definitions of national economic accounting and the meaning of GDP versus NDP. The second section provides historical context for the development of national income estimates, 1886 to 1940, culminating in the creation of GNP by the U.S. Department of Commerce in the 1940s. The third and final section discusses the standard imputations currently made to reflect nonprice economic activity (e.g., for owner-occupied housing and government services) and explores the debate over imputations for natural resources and environmental quality.

Keywords: History; Natural Environment; Quality; Accounting; Forecasting and Prediction; Environmental Sustainability; Economy; United States;


Moss, David A., and Sarah A. Brennan. "National Economic Accounting: Past, Present, and Future." Harvard Business School Case 703-026, December 2002.