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MEASURING OUTPUT FROM THE PUBLIC SECTOR: A CRITICAL EXAMINATION OF THE ATKINSON REVIEW

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In 1993 a new page was turned in national accounting. The United Nations Standards of National Accounting recommended a new standard for the measurement of output from the public sector. Implementation has recently begun in many countries, in Europe based on a European Union directive. In the U.K. the Atkinson Review in 2005 came up with a series of recommendations. This article examines its recommendations concerning the definition and valuation of government outputs. For the non-market sector a market analog is recommended by the Review. However, several of its recommendations are inconsistent with that, championing social value as a basis for definitions and measurement. If taken seriously it will lead to arbitrary and politically controversial factors inserted into national accounts. The article highlights the norm that GDP is a measure of production, and advocates adhering to the market analog and following well recognized practices of national accounting.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 June 2010

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