Statistics Canada revises over 30 years of economic accounting

Statistics Canada has revised three decades worth of data in its System of National Accounts, implementing new standards set out in 2009 by international entities including the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund. The revision resulted in “no substantial change” to estimates of Canada’s GDP and was aimed at giving “a more comprehensive picture of the Canadian economy,” the agency writes.

Among the notable tweaks:

  • The Canadian economy shrank by more than previously estimated in the last quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009. Real GDP dipped by 1.1 per cent between September and December of 2008, compared to a previously estimated decline of 0.9 per cent, and by 2.2 per cent between January and April of 2009 compared to 2 per cent.
  • Business and government spending on research and development, as well as some military spending will now be classified as investment. This led to a $36.4 billion upward revision of Canada’s GDP in 2007 before adjusting for inflation. StatsCan also noted that growth in R&D investment has lagged other types of investment for the past five years.
  • StatsCan will subtract the interest families pay on their consumer credit before estimating their disposable income. This and other changes led a downward revision of Canadian household’s disposable income in 2007 of $45.1 billion, or five per cent of total disposable income as previously calculated.
  • Financial corporations, now considered a sector unto its own, turned out to have accounted for a rapidly growing share of the operating profits of Canada’s corporate sector in the past 15 years: from 4.9 per cent in 1997 to 8.3 per cent in 2011.
  • The changes also led to “an upward revision to foreign holdings of Canadian equity securities.”

Read the full report here.




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