Announcement of the revision of CBS’s macroeconomic figures

The regular revision of the macroeconomic figures will take place this year. This revision is in accordance with European policy on harmonised revisions. In May 2024, the Netherlands will be one of the first member states to publish new revised figures on the size of the Dutch economy for the 2021 reporting period. Most other European Union (EU) member states will follow in September 2024.

The purpose of the revision is to incorporate the latest insights from the various (new) statistics and information sources used for the national accounts. The revision means that a new level estimate of the national accounts will be available for the 2021 reporting period. The annual and quarterly figures from 1995 onwards will be adjusted to this new level. The publication of the new time series is scheduled for 24 June 2024.

The revision involves not only the national accounts but also statistics on the public finances, which are part of the national accounts. As well as the revision of the national accounts, a revision of the balance of payments and international investment position of De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) is also being carried out. DNB and CBS are working closely together on this revision process. This is to ensure consistency between these two macroeconomic statistics.

1. Which figures are involved?

The revision involves the macro-economic data released under the umbrella of the national accounts. This includes figures on economic growth, gross domestic product (GDP), gross national income (GNI), household incomes, government deficit, public deficit, external assets, current account balance, and the number of jobs and the hours worked by employees and self-employed persons.

The national accounts also include additional accounts such as environmental accounts, regional accounts, and non-financial balance sheets. These accounts are also being revised, but will not be published until the second half of 2024 or the first half of 2025.

2. Why is the revision taking place?

There are three broad reasons why revisions are made:
(1) The data sources on which the economic figures are based change over the years: some cease to exist and new sources are being added constantly. These new sources are already being used to calculate macroeconomic figures wherever possible, especially when estimating economic growth. In a revision, however, the new sources are fully incorporated into the national accounts and the levels from the new sources are also incorporated. Updated versions of the sources are also used, where available, and the most up-to-date statistical insights are applied to the sources so that they are more consistent with the concepts used in the national accounts.

(2) The international guidelines and EU regulations that must be used to produce the national accounts, government finance figures and balance of payments data can be subject to changes in operationalisation and/or interpretation over time. These changes relate to changes to economic understanding over time and also to changes in the economy itself, such as globalisation, financialisation and digitisation.

(3) As a result of subsequent analysis carried out on economic figures that have already been definitively published, imperfections are sometimes identified in (the processing of) the source data in the national accounts. Small imperfections of this kind, which are detected after the publication of the final national accounts figures and which have only a limited impact on the overall economic picture, are generally only processed when a revision takes place. Larger imperfections are adjusted in the interim, when necessary, in accordance with the (European) policy on revision.

On this occasion there has been no large-scale introduction of new international guidelines; the statistics are still compiled according to the same European System of Accounts (ESA 2010). However, this revision does introduce a number of methodological changes that will improve the estimates produced regarding parts of the Dutch economy within the existing guidelines.

3. What about the impact of new or improved sources and methods?

This revision focuses on incorporating new or modified data sources and applying the latest statistical insights. The introduction of new data can lead to a change in the amplitude of economic or macroeconomic variables compared to the previously measured level. When this occurs, the level (amplitude) in the new source is not immediately incorporated into the national accounts in order not to distort growth figures, such as economic growth.

However, from that point on, the growth (development) in the new source is incorporated (for example the increase or decrease in the number of jobs relative to one year earlier). The adjustment to the newly measured level takes place in a revision (recalibration). Here, in addition to the reporting year under revision (in this case 2021), the corresponding time series is also adjusted to the new levels where necessary. The revision process therefore has the potential to lead to changes in growth figures from previous periods, but these are usually limited.

4. What is the role of international agreements?

EU member states are legally required to compile their national accounts in accordance with the European System of Accounts (ESA). The ESA is established by the European Council of Ministers. The guidelines have not been changed since the 2010 revision. However, the further harmonisation of the way in which these European accounting rules are interpreted does lead to adjustments in certain cases.

Within Europe, strict and legally defined agreements have been made regarding the way in which figures are produced. This is because of the role that certain figures play in member states’ contributions to the EU budget, the need to be able to follow procedure in the event of macroeconomic imbalances and EU agreements regarding the public finances of member states.

Adjustments to the levels of macroeconomic variables used for this purpose can therefore affect member state contributions to the EU budget, for example, and other Dutch contributions that are linked to its GDP/GNI (such as funding for development cooperation and contributions to NATO). Changes to contributions also depend on when and to what extent other member states revise their own national accounts.

5. Previous revision

In accordance with the new harmonised revision policy in Europe, revisions are published in years ending with a 4 or a 9. The previous revision of the national accounts was published in 2018 and concerned reporting year 2015. As a result, there is a one-off six-year interval between revisions in the Netherlands; from this revision onward, the European system will be followed. The next revision is therefore scheduled to take place in 2029. More information on the 2015 revision (in Dutch only) is available here: Revision of the 2015 national accounts | CBS

6. When will the new figures be published?

CBS will release a report on the background and impact of the revision on 23 May 2024. This will relate to the 2021 reporting year. The difference between the previous calculation and the new calculation of the size of the economy will be analysed and described for that year. CBS has opted to publish the results of the analysis concerning 2021 as soon as they are available, and not to wait until previous and more recent years have also been revised using the new method. This is because this approach will give users an immediate insight into the forthcoming changes, so that these can be anticipated where necessary.

On 24 June 2024, in accordance with the regular publication schedule, revised annual figures for 1995 to 2023 will be published on StatLine, CBS’s online database, including the revised quarterly figures up to the end of Q1 2024.

The flash estimate for Q1 2024 (published on 15 May 2024) will be the last estimate published before the introduction of the revision. CBS will publish figures from additional accounts starting in the second half of 2024. The exact date for this has not yet been fixed, and different accounts may be published on different dates. At the European level, most countries will publish their revised figures in September 2024.