Distinguished Lecture on Economics in Government-What We Don't Know Could Hurt Us: Some Reflections on the Measurement of Economic Activity

Katharine G. Abraham , Journal of Economic Perspectives 19(3) , 3-18 , July 2005.

The routine production of U.S. economic statistics dates back to the early part of the twentieth century. But in recent decades, as services output has continued to expand a system of economic statistics that had been designed during the manufacturing era began to seem increasingly outdated. Over the past decade, the statistical agencies have done yeoman work to expand the availability and quality of service sector statistics, but the task is far from completed. Moreover, the traditional accounting framework for economic statistics has focused almost exclusively on market transactions. Looking ahead, more comprehensive measurement of productive activities, however they may be organized, must be a priority.

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