Front Matter

Front Matter

Kwangwon Lee
Published Date:
November 2018
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© 2018 International Monetary Fund

Cataloging-in-Publication Data

IMF Library

Names: International Monetary Fund | International Monetary Fund. Statistics Department.

Title: Quarterly national accounts manual.

Description: Washington, DC : International Monetary Fund, 2018. | 2017 edition. | The update of the Manual was conducted by the Real Sector Division of the IMF Statistics Department. | Includes bibliographical references.

Identifiers: ISBN 9781475589870 (paper)

Subjects: LCSH: National income—Accounting—Handbooks, manuals, etc.

Classification: LCC HC79.I5 Q33 2018

ISBN 978-1-47558-987-0 (paper)

978-1-48435-507-7 (PDF)

978-1-48435-501-5 (ePub)

978-1-48435-502-2 (Mobi)

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this book are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the IMF’s Executive Directors, its management, or any of its members.

Please send orders to:

International Monetary Fund, Publication Services

P.O. Box 92780, Washington, D.C. 20090, U.S.A.

Tel.: (202) 623-7430 Fax: (202) 623-7201





Traditional macroeconomic statistics will face significant challenges in the years to come. The digitalization of society has brought new players into the information market and a number of new sources with the potential to provide instantaneous measurement of social and economic life. Official statistics agencies are in the process of adapting and modernizing their products to remain relevant.

In this fast-changing data landscape, quarterly national accounts are well positioned to play a key role in combining high-frequency economic indicators with the integrated framework of national accounts statistics. This second edition of the Quarterly National Accounts Manual (the Manual) emphasizes the timeliness and reliability of quarterly national accounts estimates. Early estimates of GDP are needed by policymakers to promptly identify current developments in economic activity; however, the push toward timelier estimates comes at a cost of greater uncertainty in preliminary readings of data. The Manual provides guidance on how to produce quick estimates of quarterly GDP that can be trusted and offers solutions regarding how revisions should be reduced, controlled, and communicated to the users.

The Manual should be regarded as a companion guide to the System of National Accounts 2008 (2008 SNA) concerning the specifics of quarterly GDP compilation. The methodology and concepts described in the Manual are also harmonized with other major international statistical standards, the sixth edition of the Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual (BPM6), the Government Finance Statistics Manual 2014 (GFSM 2014), and the Monetary and Financial Statistics Manual and Compilation Guide.

The Manual was prepared by the IMF Statistics Department in consultation with a range of experts from member countries and other international and regional organizations. I would like to thank all the experts involved for their indispensable assistance and for their collaborative spirit in sharing their experience.

In 2001, when the first edition of the Manual was published, quarterly national accounts were yet to be developed in the majority of IMF member countries. Seventeen years later, quarterly GDP estimates are regularly produced by 133 countries. I encourage member countries to continue developing and improving their systems of quarterly national accounts according to the guidelines in this Manual.

Christine Lagarde

Managing Director

International Monetary Fund


The Quarterly National Accounts Manual (the Manual) provides conceptual and practical guidance for compiling quarterly national accounts (QNA) statistics. The Manual offers a comprehensive review of data sources, statistical methods, and compilation techniques to derive official estimates of quarterly GDP. The new edition—which upgrades the first edition, published in 2001—improves and expands the previous content based on recent methodological advances, best country practices, and suggestions received from QNA compilers and experts. The Manual also benefits from technical assistance missions and training courses conducted by IMF staff and IMF Statistics Department experts in well over 100 countries since 2001.

The primary target audience of the Manual is compilers of QNA statistics. It is an essential guide for countries developing their QNA statistics for the first time. It is also a reference tool for countries that wish to improve the quality of their QNA systems. The Manual presents the main data sources for GDP and other components of the national accounts; provides guidance and recommendations on statistical methods used in the QNA compilation process, such as benchmarking, seasonal adjustment, and chain linking; and advises on specific compilation aspects of the QNA statistics, including early estimates and revisions. The Manual is also a valuable resource for users who wish to understand how quarterly GDP estimates are derived.

The Manual provides an internationally accepted framework for producing QNA data. It is fully consistent with the System of National Accounts 2008 (2008 SNA). Countries should consider the Manual a companion guide to the 2008 SNA regarding specific aspects of quarterly GDP compilation. The methodology and concepts described in the Manual are also consistent with those of other statistical manuals produced by the IMF Statistics Department, including the sixth edition of the Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual, the Government Finance Statistics Manual 2014, and the Monetary and Financial Statistics Manual and Compilation Guide.

We hope that this manual will contribute to increasing the number of countries with QNA systems. The IMF Statistics Department will continue to provide training and technical assistance to help countries develop and improve their QNA data in line with the Manual’s recommendations.


The update of the Manual was conducted by the Real Sector Division of the IMF Statistics Department.

The Manual has been authorized by Louis Marc Ducharme, Director of the Statistics Department. The work was supervised by Gabriel Quirós (Deputy Director), Claudia Dziobek (Chief, Real Sector Division), and Robert Dippelsman (Deputy Chief, Real Sector Division), all from the Statistics Department. Manik Shrestha (former Deputy Chief, Real Sector Division) initiated the update project. Marco Marini (Senior Economist, Real Sector Division, Statistics Department) was the primary drafter and also coordinated and edited contributions to the Manual. Other main drafters were Thomas Alexander and Michael Stanger (Senior Economists, Real Sector Division, Statistics Department). Other staff in the IMF Statistics Department contributed to the project; in particular, Michael Andrews, Levan Gogoberishvili, Brian Graf, Robert Heath, Chris Hinchcliffe, Kwangwon Lee, Maria Mantcheva, Margarida Martins, Silvia Matei, Niall O’Hanlon, Marshall Reinsdorf, Lisbeth Rivas, Mick Silver, Dan Smith, Louis Venter, and Kim Zieschang. We are grateful to our long-term advisors and short-term experts on the national accounts for their valuable feedback throughout the update project, in particular to Zia Abbasi, Pamela Audi, Segismundo Fassler, Russel Freeman, Donna Grcman, Pete Lee, Bent Thage, and Robin Youll.

The Manual has also benefited from feedback received by national accounts compilers and QNA experts. Three seminars were held to present preliminary versions of the Manual at the IMF regional training centers (Joint Vienna Institute in November 2014, Singapore Regional Training Institute in May 2015, and Brazil Training Center in May 2017). Comments and suggestions on initial drafts of each chapter were also received through a global consultation process launched on the IMF website. We wish to thank the following experts who provided extremely useful comments to improve our initial drafts: Svetlana Bachilo, Tigran Baghdasaryan, Dario Buono, Tommaso Di Fonzo, Lusya Khachatryan, Kristina Kiriliauskaitė, Arto Kokkinen, Stanimira Kosekova, Andreas Lorenz, Maria de Lourdes Mosqueda Gonzales, Andrej Mikus, Brent Moulton, Bruno Parmisani, Aurelienne Poissoiner, Cristian Martin Poveda, T. Rajeswari, Marcus Scheiblecker, Benson Sim, Shelly Smith, Karsten Webel, Wisnu Winardi, and Jorrit Zwijnenburg.

Louis Marc Ducharme

Chief Statistician and Data Officer, and Director

Statistics Department

International Monetary Fund

Acronyms and Abbreviations


Annual national accounts




Autoregressive integrated moving average


Benchmark to indicator


Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual


Cost insurance and freight


Classification of individual consumption according to purpose


Consumer price index


Enhanced General Data Dissemination System


European System of National and Regional Accounts


Financial intermediation services indirectly measured


Free on board


Gross domestic product


Gross domestic product by expenditure


Gross domestic product by production


Government Finance Statistics Manual


Gross national income


Gross value added


International investment position


International Labour Organization


International Monetary Fund


International Merchandise Trade Statistics


Input output


Industrial production index


International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities


Nonprofit institution serving households


Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development


Ordinary least squares


Perpetual inventory method


Producer price index


Quarterly national accounts


Special Data Dissemination Standard


Special Data Dissemination Standard Plus


System of National Accounts


Supply and use tables


Value-added tax

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