Historical National Accounts

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The ONS would like to provide historical national accounts data on its website.

Lead: Jagjit Chadha (NIESR, Kent)

Co-Leads: Martin Weale (King’s), Nick Oulton (LSE, NIESR) and Ryland Thomas (Bank of England)

Expected end date: Q1 2018/2019

Objectives: The ONS would like to provide historical national accounts data on its web site, so as to match the standards of provision of other statistical offices such as those in the Netherlands and the United States. Historical series were published by Feinstein (1972) but there are a number of obstacles to using them immediately.

The first task for this project will be to draw up an inventory of data sources. In the light of the data inventory, we will form a view of how far it is possible to construct back national accounts data that are materially different from the balanced national accounts presented by Sefton and Weale, except in terms of chain linking. For the period from 1920 to 1946 there is probably very little more that can be done. From 1946 onwards the approach we adopt to producing GDP and sectoral data on a consistent basis will depend on what further data are available as well as the treatment of volume indicators.

Project code: 1.1

Project 1.1 Extension Dating Historical Business Cycles, 1700-2000

Lead:  Jagjit Chadha (NIESR, Kent)

Co-Leads:Jason Lennard (NIESR) and  Ryland Thomas (Bank of England)

In this project, we plan to produce a new chronology of UK business cycles on an annual basis between 1700 and 2000 and on a quarterly basis between 1920 and 2000. The project will seek to answer two main questions:

  1. When were the historic peaks and troughs in economic activity? As it stands, there is no reliable or consistent long-run chronology available. A chronology of record will be a valuable resource to academics, journalists, policymakers and the wider public.
  2. How has the length and amplitude of the cycle changed over time? Without a reliable chronology, it is difficult to establish how the length or amplitude of the cycle, measured from peak to peak or from trough to trough, has changed. The new chronology will allow us to determine whether the economy has grown more or less stable.