National Accounts – Overview
This section contains historical national accounts data stretching back to 1086. The main sources for the historical data are the Broadberry, Campbell, Klein, Overton and van Leeuwen (2015), study of British Economic Growth, 1270-1870 and the Studies in National Income and Expenditure of the United Kingdom series by the Department of Applied Economics in Cambridge, particularly the contributions of Feinstein (1972) and Sefton and Weale (1995) who produce complete set of accounts for the period 1855-1965 and 1920-1990 respectively. This is supplemented by official national accounts data from 1948 from ONS under various systems of accounts. Section III of the Bank of England’s Millennium Dataset produces continuous historical time series from these different sources using particular assumptions. This is backed up by various digitised documentation on sources and methods and the complete set of Blue Books going back to 1941.
Historical UK National Accounts 1086 to the present - Academic datasetsThe first four datasets here represent estimates of British and UK National accounts data back to 1270 based on academic research and have been made available with the kind permission of the authors, the Faculty of Economics at the University of Cambridge and Cambridge University Press:
- British Economic Growth Dataset 1270-1870 (xls) from Steve Broadberry, Bruce Campbell, Alex Klein, Mark Overton and Bas van Leeuwen, British Economic Growth 1270-1870
- Feinstein (1972) National Income Expenditure and Output of the United Kingdom 1855-1965 (xls). These are the data tables from Professor Charles Feinstein's (1972) volume National Income, Expenditure and Output of the UK 1855-1965 and are also available in pdf. These are reproduced with the kind permission of the Faculty of Economics at the University of Cambridge and Professor Feinstein's family
- The estimates for capital formation, gross and net capital stocks and net trade were subsequently revised by Charles Feinstein in a joint study edited with Sidney Pollard. These data supersede those in the 1972 volume and are available in the spreadsheet Studies in Capital Formation in the United Kingdom 1750-1920 (xls).
- Feinstein's (1972) estimates for the income measure of GDP have also been updated in recent work by Solomos Solomou and Ryland Thomas. This brings together many of the subsequent improvements that Feinstein and other scholars made to wages, employment and other components required to build up GDP from the income side. The estimates are available in the spreadsheet Updated estimates of GDP from the income side, 1842-1920 (xls).
- Sefton and Weale - Balanced National Accounts Estimates 1920-1990 (xls) by James Sefton and Martin Weale, from Reconciliation of National Income and Expenditure. Balanced Estimates of National Income for the United Kingdom, 1920–1990, © Cambridge University Press 1995
- Bank of England Millennium of Macroeconomic Data v3.1. Headline national accounts series from this dataset are available via FRED
Official Historical National Accounts Data - The pre-ESA95 National Accounts 1948-1997Historical official national accounts data for the UK between 1948 and 1997, based on the earlier system of accounts preceding the introduction of the ESA95 standard in 1998, has been reconstructed on behalf of the ONS by Anne Harrison, editor of the 2008 System of National Accounts, the international standard on which the ESA is based. This file covers the summary national accounts and the sector accounts as they appeared annually in the Blue Books and on a quarterly basis in Economic Trends and, from 1992, in the United Kingdom Economic Accounts (UKEA). The data throughout are consistent with the last quarterly accounts published before Blue Book 1998 was introduced. So they include data up to 1998Q1 and are consistent with the classifications and definitions in Blue Book 1997. They represent the official national accounts as they were known and understood at that time. Feinstein's (1972) dataset and the latest set of ONS national accounts from 1987 to the present is underway. That will facilitate a more consistent and coherent set of joined-up accounts for the post-WW2 period than currently is available in the Bank's Millennium dataset. A sibling dataset covers the balance of payments that appeared in the Pink Book at the same point in time and is available in the Overseas Trade and the Balance of Payments section.
Vintage or Real-time databases
Bank of EnglandThe Bank of England's vintage database contains monthly vintages of National Accounts data published since January 1990. Each vintage shows the data available on the last working day of the month. For a subset of the real expenditure variables, a longer history of quarterly vintages is also available. The database is available in Microsoft Excel format. It is updated every year following the publication of the ONS Blue Book. It was last updated in November 2016. The 'read me' workbook details the available dataset. The data themselves can be found in the other workbooks. They all contain a 'menu' worksheet that lists the data available therein. Other worksheets contain successive vintages of data for individual series. Each vintage is a separate column, with the oldest vintage of data on the far left and the most recent vintage on the far right. At the top of each column is the publication date (i.e. the month in which that vintage was published).
- Read me (xls)
- Nominal expenditure (xlsx)
- Nominal income (xlsx)
- Real expenditure (long-run) (xlsx)
- Real expenditure (xlsx)
- Real output (xlsx)
- Expenditure deflators (xlsx)
- Macroeconomic balances (xlsx)
- Labour market quantities (xlsx)
Measuring WorthProfessor Sam Williamson at the Measuring Worth site has collected vintages of official United Kingdom GDP numbers, published annually since 1953 and quarterly since 1961. This is joint work with Enrico Berkes. The annual vintage dataset consists of 56 spreadsheets, one for each year starting in 1953 and then every year since 1959. They each present nominal GDP, real GDP, population, unemployed, real GDP per capita, nominal GDP per capita, and the implied deflator. Most of the series start in 1948 and go up to the year previous to when they are published.
Feinstein (1972) - National Income, Output and Expenditure of the UK 1855-1965, Sources and MethodsThe following chapters from Feinstein's work on National Income over the period 1855-1965 discuss the sources and methods used in the construction of the estimates in the spreadsheet in the datasets section. Permission to reproduce these has kindly been granted by the Faculty of Economics at the University of Cambridge and Professor Feinstein's family.
- Chapter 1 - Introduction and Summary Tables
- Chapter 2 - Personal Income and Expenditure
- Chapter 3 - Companies and Public Corporations
- Chapter 4 - Central Government
- Chapter 5 - Local Authorities
- Chapter 6 - International Transactions
- Chapter 7 - Gross Trading Profits and Self Employment Income
- Chapter 8 - Rent
- Chapter 9 - Capital Formation
- Chapter 10 - Real Product
- Chapter 11 - Population and Labour Force
- Tables 1 to 65 (pdf)
- Tables 1 to 65 (xlsx)
Official sources and methods guides to the National AccountsThe complete set of volumes covering the sources and methods used in constructing the UK National Accounts since WW2 are available below:
- National Income Statistics Sources and Methods - 1956 (250MB)
- National Accounts Statistics Sources and Methods - Rita Maurice 1968 (330MB)
- The National Accounts - a short guide 1981 Harold Copeman (75MB)
- United Kingdom National Accounts Sources & Methods - 3rd Edition 1985 (208MB)
- ESA95 Sources and Methods for National Accounts 1998
- ESA95 United Kingdom Sector Classification for the National Accounts 1998 (62MB)
- The National Accounts A Short Guide - Pete Lee - 2011
Histories and Summaries of Developments in UK National AccountsSteve Drew at ONS has compiled a summary document of all Blue Book changes since 1951 which is provided below:
- Annual National Income and Expenditure estimates for the UK ("Blue Books") from 1941
- Quarterly UK Economic Accounts (UKEA) from 1992
Excel files for certain Blue Books have kindly been provided by ONS from archived data in legacy systems. They have been provided on a best endeavours basis to enable users to obtain a series from a particular Blue Book vintage and are organised by series code (CDIDs). These have undergone simple checks against the published Blue Books but they need to be used with care. They contain backdata for many series which did not appear in the published Blue Book which typically would only involve a backrun of around 10 years for most series. Backdata in the files before this point may not have been subject to appropriate checks for methodological or classification discontinuities and accounting constraints. So users should be alert to potential series breaks. Where there is a discrepancy between a series in the excel file and the published Blue Book pdf file, the data in the published Blue Book should be taken to be the correct value. See Martin (2007) for a discussion of identified issues with historic Blue Book datasets after the introduction of ESA95 in 1998 and documentation of series which may contain errors.
For UK Economic Accounts 1998Q1 the consistent set of historical annual and quarterly national accounts data reconstructed by Anne Harrison, based on the pre-ESA95 system of accounts and discussed in the Datasets section, is the linked Excel file for this periodical.