Macroeconomic statistics revised for reporting year 2021

On 23 May 2024, CBS and De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) published the first results of the revision of the Dutch macroeconomic statistics. This concerns the balance of payments, the international investment position, government finance and the national accounts. This revised publication relates to the initial outcomes for reporting year 2021. The revised CBS figures for the entire time series from 1995 to the first quarter of 2024 are expected to be published at the end of June.

The macroeconomic statistics are revised periodically. Part of this revision involves the introduction of new sources, methods and concepts to ensure optimal alignment between how the Dutch economy is presented with all the underlying statistics, sources and international guidelines on the compilation of macroeconomic statistics. The European Commission has recommended that member states revise their methodology at least every five years, and this revision is the Netherlands’ response to that recommendation.

In the Netherlands, CBS and De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) collaborate closely to compile macroeconomic statistics including the national accounts, balance of payments and government finance statistics. As a result, the national accounts key figures and the balance of payments and international investment position prepared by DNB have been fully reconciled since 2018. CBS and DNB also jointly implemented the revision of these systems. DNB discusses the results of the revision of the balance of payments and the international investment position in its own publication.

The outcomes for frequently used macroeconomic variables

The revision has resulted in new estimates of the macroeconomic indicators for 2021. The most significant adjustments are outlined in a comprehensive revision publication, including an annex of tables with an overview of the adjustments for reporting year 2021. The publication also covers the issue of why macroeconomic statistics need to be revised regularly.

A brief overview of several of the most frequently-used indicators is given below, followed by the backgrounds to these adjustments:

  • Gross domestic product (GDP) was revised upwards by €21 billion to a total of €892 billion, an increase of 2.4 percent.
  • Gross national income (GNI) was revised upwards by €17.9 billion, an increase of 2.0 percent.
  • Household disposable income was revised upwards by €1.3 billion. Household consumer spending was increased by €19.5 billion. As a result, the household savings rate was revised downwards by 4.2 percentage points to 19.1 percent.
  • The government’s balance of receivables remained almost unchanged at -€20 billion (-2.2 percent of GDP). Government debt according to the EMU definition was also hardly revised and amounts to €450 billion. As a result of GDP being revised upwards, government debt, expressed as a percentage of GDP, now amounts to 50.4 percent. Before the revision, the debt was 51.7 percent of GDP.
  • The external assets position was adjusted downwards by €181 billion to €632 billion.

Background and key adjustments in this revision

Many of the adjustments in this revision are a consequence of four overarching themes:

  1. Recommendations or action points during verification of the figures by Eurostat and the European Central Bank (ECB). Because of the importance of macroeconomic statistics, extensive checks are carried out on the figures. This can result in recommendations or action points.
  2. New sources. Several new sources have become available at CBS and De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) in recent years. These mainly concern sections of the economy in which no direct source was available and where model-based estimates were previously used.
  3. Alignment with existing sources. Even if no new sources are used for this revision, realignment to existing sources may result in adjustments. This often directly or indirectly concerns the requirement for comparability of successive estimates in the national accounts. This allows source developments to be included, but sometimes creates differences with the source over time.
  4. Reclassifications of enterprises and institutions. There has been a major focus in recent years on improving the classification of enterprises and institutions according to economic activity (such as manufacturing, construction industry and business services) and sector (such as non-financial corporations (NFCs), financial enterprises and the government). This has sometimes resulted in (major) shifts between economic activities and/or sectors. The impact of this on macroeconomic key figures such as GDP and GNI is usually of limited scope.

New estimate of the impact of illegal activities on the Dutch economy

In accordance with European guidelines, macroeconomic statistics should describe all economic activities, including illegal economic activities. This includes estimates of three illegal activities: the illegal production and trafficking of drugs; prostitution; and the illegal trade in tobacco. According to new estimates produced in the framework of the revised national accounts, these activities contributed €4.5 billion to the Dutch economy (the GDP of the Netherlands) in 2021, making its share of the total economy 0.5%.

Further information on the estimates regarding the illegal economy can be found here.

The next steps and when further reports will be published

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

In accordance with the adopted European policy, the next revision of the national accounts is expected to be published in 2029 and will concern reporting year 2026. This revision will also be aligned with new international guidelines for compiling macroeconomic statistics. These guidelines are currently being developed by international organisations including the United Nations (UN), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Eurostat.

Further information about the revision

Additional background information and figures from the revision can be found in the explanation of the 2021 revision, which was published in Dutch on 23 May 2024 and the English translation was published today.

If you have any questions concerning this publication, please contact the Press Office/Infoservice.