National accounts and business cycles

Annual national accounts2012

As of 16 May 2017 the statistics will be published as Quarterly national accounts.


About the statistics


Name and topic

Name: Annual national accounts
Topic: National accounts and business cycles

Responsible division

Division for National Accounts

Definitions of the main concepts and variables

See Concepts and definitions in national accounts for definitions and explanations of concepts and variables.


Valuation is particularly relevant for transactions of goods and services, but also for the general aspect of registration (cf. cash values or accruals values, and other principles for the recording of statistical data). The transactions of variables in the national accounts follow the accruals principle. Thus, taxes on production and subsidies are recorded as accrued values and not as recorded in the government accounts (taxes on production and subsidies in cash values).

In the description of the transaction of goods and services several price concepts are used. Output is valued at basic prices, while the use categories, both intermediate consumption and final use, are valued at purchaser prices, including exports at fob (free on board). Imports are valued at cif (cost-insurance-freight). Basic prices mean that the corresponding taxes on products are deducted and subsidies on products are added to output recorded at producer prices.

The value added of an industry is "valued" at basic prices (calculated as output at basic prices less intermediate consumption at purchaser prices). The total value added of the industries is also "valued" at basic prices.

GDP is "valued" at market prices, which means that taxes on products, including VAT, less subsidies on products are added to the total value added of the industries at basic prices.

Standard classifications

The accounting system of the Norwegian national accounts is based on the international standards for national accounts, i.e. 2008 SNA and ESA 2010. The accounting system outlines the framework and contents for the production of national accounts statistics. In addition to accounting structure, the accounting system contains a number of groupings or classifications used in the national accounts, of which the most important are described below:

Activity classification
The activity classification used in the national accounts is based on the Norwegian Standard Industrial Classification (SN2007) , which is based on NACE Rev.2 . Several levels of aggregation have been introduced for publication and reporting purposes. See Industries in the Norwegian National Accounts .

Classification of non-financial assets and gross fixed capital formation
Non-financial assets are classified by type of aggregates defined in 2008 SNA, such as fixed assets, inventories, research and development, valuables, and non-produced assets, both including tangible assets such as land, subsoil-assets, water resources etc and intangible assets such as patented entities, transferable contracts etc. It classifies the various types of non-financial assets according to the structure of these main items. This classification is more aggregated than the corresponding classification used for gross fixed capital formation by type. Gross fixed capital formation is grouped by main type within building and construction, machinery and equipment and transportation equipment.

Product classification
The product classification of the national accounts relates to aggregates of goods and services that are specified in the national accounts. The classification is based on the EU's central product classification CPA - Statistical Classification of Products by Activity in the European Community . The CPA groups products by activities, i.e. it defines characteristic products within each activity and connects them to the activity classification NACE Rev.2

Classification of individual consumption by purpose
The classification of individual consumption by purpose is based on the international classification COICOP - Classification of Individual Consumption by Purpose , published by the UN. Consumption expenditure groups in the National Accounts

Classification of the functions of government
The classification of the functions of government by purpose apply to all types of general government expenses, such as government final consumption expenditure, gross fixed capital formation, subsidies, property income (i.e. expenses), capital transfers and other transfers for use in government financial accounts and in the national accounts. This classification is based on the international classification COFOG - Classification of the Functions of Government , published by the UN.

Classification of the purpose of non-profit institutions serving households (NPISH)
This is a minor purpose classification which applies to expenses of NPISHs. It is based on the international classification COPNI - Classification of the Purposes of the Non-Profit Institutions Serving Households , published by the UN.

Administrative information

Regional level

National level

Statistics Norway also compiles a regional version of the national accounts .

Frequency and timeliness


The final version of the annual national accounts for year t is based on detailed annual statistics and methods for compilation of annual national accounts and is published 21 months after the end of the year (in August/September year t+2).

The first version of the annual accounts is compiled by adding up the four quarters of the ordinary quarterly national accounts (QNA) and is published about 45-50 days after the end of the year (in February, year t+1). This preliminary version is revised in May and in August/September in the same year. These two versions are also based on the methods and accounting system of the QNA, but annual statistics and other information available at the time are also utilised.


International reporting

Published figures are reported to Eurostat, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the United Nations (UN).


Not relevant


Background and purpose

The national accounts (NA) statistics are designed to provide a consistent and comprehensive survey of the overall national economy. The annual national accounts provide a summarised description of the economy as a whole and a detailed description of transactions between different parts of the Norwegian economy, and between Norway and the rest of the world. The national accounts also provide information on capital stocks and employment.

National accounts are used as a tool to compare the economic situation in different countries, and therefore it is important that national accounts in various countries are based on a common template. Staff involved in elaborating national accounts in Statistics Norway participated actively in developing international recommendations and concepts regarding national accounts. The first international standard for national accounts, 1953 System of National Accounts (1953 SNA), was published by UN in 1953.

From time to time some adaptations or changes are made to the common international recommendations for national accounts, among else as a consequence of growth in new economic phenomena or changes in the way of organizing the economy. This requires corresponding changes in the construction of the Norwegian national accounts. At different time intervals, new source statistics are produced and strongly indicate that parts of the national accounts figures need to be revised. Since one objective of the national accounts is to provide a picture of the development over time which is as correct as possible, it is not possible to introduce such changes from one year to another. With different time intervals, it will therefore be necessary to carry out major revisions of the national accounts figures, so-called main revisions, in order to introduce adaptations due to new international recommendations or introduce new levels based on new statistical sources. As a part of these main revisions the time series are revised so that the revised national accounts can give a consistent picture of the economic development over time. Between 1960 and 1970, the national accounts in Norway were developed considerably and adapted to the updated international recommendations in 1968 SNA. In the first decades the published national accounts in Norway did only cover the parts of the national accounts we refer to as the real accounts (see section Production). Non-financial sector accounts, based on modern principles, were published the first time for the year 1978.

Pursuant to the EEA agreement, Norway is obliged to follow the European recommendations for national accounts in the European System of National and Regional Accounts (ESA). The first version of ESA from 1970 based on 1968 SNA, was not obliging for Norway. A revised version of SNA, published by UN, OECD, IMF, EU and the World Bank, 1993 System of National Accounts caused a revision also of ESA (ESA95). This European framework for compilation of national accounts is consistent with 1993 SNA with regard to definitions, classifications and other principles, but focus on the conditions and requirements for data in the European Union. To incorporate the revised recommendations in 1993 SNA and ESA 1995, as well as many new source statistics, the Norwegian NA was subject to an extensive main revision in the 1990th.

Statistics Norway has recently carried out a new main revision published in November 2014, to incorporate updated international recommendations in 2008 SNA and ESA 2010. Changes due to this main revision are described, among else, in the article Main revision 2014. Planned changes in the national accounts statistics.   

From the Norwegian national accounts were established and until today, Statistics Norway has carried out 6 main revisions. The previous main revision, pubslished in 2011 is described in the article Revised national accounts figures 1970-2010.

The publication History of national accounts in Norway. From free research to statistics regulated by law provides more information about the history of national accounts in Norway, including main revisions.

In the future main revisions of the national accounts normally will be carried out every five years.

Users and applications

The Norwegian national accounts are a useful tool for analyses of the economic development and structures in Norway. The national accounts are also used to compare the economy in different countries. The national accounts therefore have many users, from pupils and students to public or private institutions that actively use national accounts figures in analyses of economic structures and development. Among other things, central macroeconomic models are used in economic planning. The majority of these have been developed by Statistics Norway based on the annual national accounts. Other major users of the Norwegian national accounts data are the Ministry of Finance, Norges Bank, research and development institutes (including Statistics Norway's research department), financial analysts and the media.

In addition, international organisations such as the IMF, the OECD, the World Bank, the UN and Eurostat use the reported data in their statistics.

Equal treatment of users

No external users have access to the statistics and analyses before they are published and accessible simultaneously for all users on ssb.no at 08.00 am. Prior to this, a minimum of three months' advance notice is given in the Statistics Release Calendar. This is one of Statistics Norway’s key principles for ensuring that all users are treated equally.

Coherence with other statistics

The annual non-financial sector accounts are fully integrated and consistent with the annual national accounts (the real accounts). The Norwegian Balance of Payments (BoP) is an integrated system in the Norwegian system of national accounts, and the BoP figures are fully consistent with other NA figures. The quarterly national accounts, the regional accounts by county, as well as various satellite accounts (environment, tourism, health, non-profit institutions) are all based on the annual NA, and therefore also consistent with the non-financial sector accounts.  Satellite accounts figures are however not revised as a part of main revision of the national accounts, so figures for previous years may not necessarily be compatible with NA time series after main revisions.

As mentioned in the chapter "Production: Data sources and sampling", the national accounts are based on various statistical sources. The source statistics may not use the same definitions or groupings as the national accounts. As a result, figures in the source statistics may be adapted or corrected before use in the national accounts. Published figures in the source statistics of certain industries may therefore not correspond to published figures in the national accounts.

Legal authority

Not relevant

EEA reference

  • Regulation (EU) No 549/2013 (ESA 2010).
  • The European Parliament and of the council of 21 May 2013 on the European system of national and regional accounts in the European Union (text with EEA relevance).



The coverage of the national accounts is defined by international guidelines in the 2008 System of National Accounts (2008 SNA) published by the UN, the OECD, the IMF, the World Bank, and the Commission of the European Communities, and the European System of National and Regional Accounts 2010 (ESA 2010) published by Eurostat/the EC Commission.

The total national economy and the distinction between the national economy and foreign countries is defined in terms of resident units. A unit is defined as a resident unit of the country when it has a centre of economic interest in the economic territory of the country - i.e. when it is involved in economic activities on this territory for an extended period of time (one year or more).

Two basic types of information are recorded in the national accounts: flows and stocks. Flows refer to actions and effects of events that take place within a given period of time, for example the output of an industry in one year. Stocks refer to positions at a certain point of time, for example the value of capital stock or the number of employed persons.

The national accounts comprise two basic statistical units: institutional units and local kind-of-activity units (establishments). Institutional units are economic entities that are capable of owning goods and assets, of incurring liabilities and of engaging in economic activities and transactions with other units in their own right. An institutional unit contains one or more local kind-of-activity units (local KAUs). The local KAUs are classified by type of activity. An activity is characterised by an input of products, a production process and an output of products. All local KAUs engaged in the same, or similar kind-of-activity constitute an industry.

The national accounts consist of two main sets of tables; the supply and use tables (SUT), also described as the real accounts, and the institutional sector accounts. The real accounts are based on local kind-of-activity units (KAU). All local KAUs that produce the same, or similar, products constitute an activity. An activity is characterised by input of products, a production process, and final products.

The institutional sector accounts are based on institutional units. The real accounts are consistent with the institutional sector accounts. This description of the national accounts covers the part of the national accounts that is based on the annual SUT (the real accounts).

The real accounts in current and constant prices offer a structured overview of the supply and use of products (goods and services) in the economy. It shows where in the economy goods and services are used. In addition, information on fixed assets, wages, hours worked, full-time equivalents and employed persons by industry is included. Furthermore, the real accounts provide the basis for the calculation of the Gross National Product (GDP) and other central macroeconomic measures (see the chapter "Definitions: Definitions of the main concepts and variables"). The annual growth in volume and price are calculated for most variables.


A central part of the national accounts is the description of the domestic output of goods and services. Domestic output is divided into about 130 industries in the final version of the annual national accounts, where each industry consists of enterprises characterised by almost identical production processes. All commercial activities in the economy, whether private or public, personal services, government services or other output-producing activities, are included in the national accounts. The production boundary includes production of individual and collective services by government, own production of housing services by owner-occupiers, production of goods for own final consumption, production of services by paid domestic staff and, in principle, illegal production and production for which the revenues are not declared to the fiscal authorities. Domestic and personal services produced and consumed within the same household fall outside the production boundary.

Each industry produces one or more types of goods or services. These goods and services are referred to as products, and the final version of the annual national accounts includes about 700 products. A homogenous product can be produced in more than one industry, but is characteristic only to one industry.

The annual national accounts also show the supply of products delivered from foreign countries as import. Total supply is given by total domestic output and import. Import is not specified by industry, but is distributed by product. Import and export make up a central part of the Balance of Payments (BoP), which is fully consistent with the rest of the national accounts.

As a third aspect, there may be transfers of income to or from the government sector. These transfer, expressed by the sum of net product taxes (product taxes less product subsidies), are allocated to a number of products.


The description of the use of goods and services is divided into final domestic use of goods and services and export. Export is defined as the part of domestic output that is sold abroad. For the part of domestic output that is export, no further distinction between uses has been made. Domestic use is divided into different categories: Intermediate consumption in the 130 industries, consumption, gross fixed capital formation in the industries and changes in stock.

Products used for consumption may be used by households, non-profit institutions serving households (NPISHs) or general government. A part of the final consumption expenditure by general government is classified as individual consumption, since a single individual carries out this part of the final consumption, but it is paid by general government. Examples of individual consumption are government expenditure for products related to health care and education. The rest of the final consumption expenditure by general government is classified as collective consumption expenditure since this cannot be assigned to one individual. Examples are defense, public order and safety and other general public services.

A part of the total supply of a product is used as intermediate consumption by industries; i.e. they are either fully used in the production of other products (for instance electricity or other energy), or they are processed into more refined products and resold.

A part of the total supply consists of capital goods. Households use some of it, and this forms one part of household consumption, but a large part is used by industries as a part of gross fixed capital formation and fixed assets.

In some cases, the total supply of a product is larger than the total use of the product. This results in a build-up of stock. If the total supply of a product is lower than the total use, this results in a reduction of stock.

Some results

For each industry, value added is calculated as the difference between output and intermediate consumption. Value added is distributed between various components, including the compensation of employees and operating surplus. The compensation of employees consists of both wages and salaries paid to employees and social security costs.

Data sources and sampling

The calculations are based on statistics from several different sources, such as the structural business statistics for manufacturing and other industries, accounting statistics for general government and enterprises, statistics for wages and earnings, external trade statistics, household consumer surveys and labour statistics. Some parts of the national accounts are compiled more or less directly from the source statistics, while other parts are based on calculations and estimates.

The methods and calculation system used to calculate annual, preliminary, figures, are basically the same as the system used to calculate quarterly national accounts (QNA). Preliminary national accounts figures are calculated based on the development in appropriate short-time statistics and the structure in the last final annual national accounts. See "About the statistics" for the quarterly national accounts. Annual source statistics available when the preliminary version of the annual accounts is calculated, are also utilised.

Collection of data, editing and estimations

Collection of data

The annual national accounts are mainly based on statistics collected by other divisions in Statistics Norway. To some extent data produced by external suppliers are used.


The process of compiling the annual national accounts starts with the calculation of independent supply and demand estimates for all goods and services at current prices. To some extent, source data are extracted directly from the databases and converted into national accounts codes and format. Other parts of the economy are based on more complex calculations, based on different statistical sources and/or assessments.

The source data are critically evaluated and compared with alternative sources (for some parts of the economy). In some areas, the statistics have to be adjusted in order to satisfy the requirements of the national accounts. In areas where the statistics are incomplete, evaluations are essential. In the process of estimating national accounts data, estimated national accounts figures are critically evaluated and controlled in several steps.

Finally, supply and demand for each of these goods and services are balanced using supplementary information and quality assessments of the various statistical sources. This results in integrated supply and use tables at current prices.

As a part of the reporting responsibility to Eurostat, the Division for National Accounts occasionally documents the calculations for the final annual national accounts, see Norwegian National Accounts - GNI Inventory for ESA95 .

The figure below gives an outline of the calculation system for final annual national accounts figures. First, detailed figures are calculated and balanced in current prices. Then the system calculates figures in constant prices, based on the detailed current price figures and corresponding price indices. The deflation (current values that are divided by price indices) takes place at the most detailed product level: A price index is allocated to each detailed product. The individual products are as price homogeneous as possible. Constant price figures in the annual national accounts are calculated using the price level of the previous year, which means that the base year is changed every year.

The deflation approach has in fact two dimensions, (i) differentiated by main categories of supply and use (deflating output, imports, exports and implicitly for domestic use), and (ii) differentiated through valuation (deflating current values at basic prices by price indices and implicitly determining the other value components, including adjustments against values at purchaser prices). The method used to calculate constant figures: i.e. a separate deflation of output and intermediate consumption in order to arrive at value added at constant prices as a balancing item, through a detailed input-output framework (supply and use tables), is called double deflation.

(Click image for larger version.)


Constant-price estimates for aggregates of supply, use and value added are estimated by adding up and balancing constant-price estimates of products. They include aggregates such as output by industry, categories of exports and imports, categories of final uses, intermediate consumption by industry, value added by industry and GDP.

Constant-price estimates in the national accounts are calculated at the previous year's prices, i.e. the base year is changed every year. Subsequently, data on volume changes are constructed in terms of growth rates and corresponding implicit data on changes in prices. In parallel, time series of volume figures are constructed using prices from a reference year. The constant-price estimates are consistent with the data on volume changes in the series of growth rates. Since the chaining is carried out separately for all items, the table components do not, however, necessarily add up to the totals of the same table.

Seasonal adjustment

Not relevant


§ 2-6 of the Statistics Act states that data under no circumstances shall be published in such a way that they may be traced back to the supplier. This means that the general rule is not to publish data if there are fewer than three enterprises in an industry. Within the national accounts this principle of confidentiality is ensured by defining the detailed classification of industries in the national accounts so that an industry always consists of at least three enterprises.

§2-4 of the Statistics Act contains provisions regarding professional secrecy for the staff as well as other provisions regarding confidentiality and integrity.

Comparability over time and space

Comparable figures for annual national accounts are available back to 1970. These time series are all based on 2008 SNA and ESA 2010. Historical data for years before 1970 (1865-1970) are also available, but these data are based on previous international guidelines and therefore not necessarily comparable with the updated series.

Accuracy and reliability

Sources of error and uncertainty

The national accounts are based on various statistical sources. The sources are either survey data from establishments, enterprises or households, or data from registers. National accounts statistics reflect the inaccuracy in the statistical sources and the methods of compilation. Weaknesses and inaccuracy in the statistical sources are normally described in the documentation of the relevant sources.

Since the national accounts are an integrated system with balancing methods and consistency checks, the national accounts may reduce some of the inaccuracies in the statistical sources. On the other hand, national accounts require the compilation of statistics in areas where the sources are unsatisfactory, and the inaccuracy in such areas may therefore be significant. Some of the figures in the national accounts are estimated as residuals, and the uncertainty may be substantial in these areas. Examples are the compilation of changes in inventories and operating surplus by activity.

The EU Commission and Eurostat have completed a quality evaluation of the national accounts in all EEA countries. The conclusion was that "The Norwegian national accounts are of a high quality, soundly based on reliable and exhaustive sources, integrated in a system with a detailed product breakdown". (Report on the sources and methods used in compiling GNP in Norway, Eurostat/B1/CPNB/237/EN, 9 December 1997, Luxembourg.)

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) completed an evaluation of central parts of Norwegian macroeconomic statistics in autumn 2002, including the Norwegian national accounts. In the report IMF (2003), the Norwegian macroeconomic statistics, including the national accounts, got positive reviews: "In summary, Norway's macroeconomic statistics are of generally high quality." About the national accounts, the IMF also expressed that: "The source data for both the annual and the quarterly national accounts are generally sound and timely, and sufficiently portray reality."

The production of several of the sources that are used in the national accounts takes a considerable amount of time. Consequently, preliminary figures are more inaccurate than final figures.


Preliminary quarterly and annual figures are revised until final annual figures are published (in August/September year t+2). See Administrative information, Frequency and timeliness. In addition, periodical main revisions give revised figures. See Background and purpose.