GDP Quarterly National Accounts: Quality and Methodology Information

Information for quarterly gross domestic product (GDP) statistics, introducing the data sources and methods used and the strengths and limitations of the data.


The degree to which statistical outputs meet users' needs

The quarterly national accounts for Scotland, along with other short term GDP statistics produced by the Scottish Government, are published to provide users with timely information on the performance of Scotland’s economy.

GDP statistics have been continuously developed and improved by the Scottish Government since the early years of devolution. The production of GDP estimates - which capture activity from all sectors of the economy - was initially begun with the primary aim of providing a wider range of statistics on a more frequent and timely release schedule than the more limited range of annual regional statistics produced by the ONS.

The Scottish Government’s quarterly GDP first estimate and quarterly national accounts releases are both accredited official statistics and were designated as national statistics by the OSR in Assessment Report 83 (2011) and Assessment Report 272 (2014).

Scotland’s quarterly GDP and wider national accounts statistics provide a basis for analysing the economic performance of the country and are widely used by parts of the government, business and academic sectors as well as the media and general public. Following the changes to devolved powers in the Scotland Act (2016), the Quarterly National Accounts statistics are a major input to the independent statutory forecasts of the Scottish Fiscal Commission.

As part of the UK, Scotland’s national accounts statistics are produced, to the degree that it is possible at any given time, to be consistent with the latest UK national accounts. The UK national accounts are still compiled in accordance with the European System of Accounts 2010 (ESA 2010).  ESA 2010 is itself consistent with the standards set out in the United Nations System of National Accounts 2008 (SNA 2008).

As part of the compilation process, most of the national accounts statistics produced by the Scottish Government are also consistent with the annual UK regional GDP estimates produced by the ONS, although there can be differences introduced by timing (such as lags between releases) or methodology divergence where methods or data specifically relating to Scotland are found to be more relevant than general methods which might be applied across all parts of the UK.

The Scottish Government national accounts mostly relate to the geographical area of Scotland as defined for the International Territorial Level 1 (ITL1, UK region TLM), and exclude any economic activity which is counted as extra-regio under ESA10 (UK region TLZ). This is commonly referred to as Scotland’s onshore economy. Additional measures of some components of the national accounts are also produced which include estimates of the part of extra-regio economic activity which occurs in Scotland (that is, in areas where the Scottish Government has responsibility for devolved policy), including in Scottish adjacent waters, or which can be assigned a share to Scotland on another basis.

There are two quarterly estimates of Scotland onshore GDP in volume terms published each quarter alongside a monthly estimate of GDP. Other components of GDP in nominal terms (current prices) are published only in the quarterly national accounts release.

Data for the individual components of GDP are sourced from survey and administrative sources for Scotland, or are derived using regional apportionment methods on UK components of GDP published by the ONS.


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