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.

Timeliness and punctuality

Timeliness refers to the lapse of time between publication and the period to which the data refer. Punctuality refers to the gap between planned and actual publication dates.

GDP estimates are produced on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis:

  • The GDP monthly estimate, which is based on the output approach, is published around 55-60 days after the end of the reference month (the UK equivalent release is around 40 days).
  • The GDP first quarterly estimate is published around eight or nine weeks after the end of the reference quarter and contains only output data (the equivalent UK release is around six weeks and contains output, expenditure and income data).
  • The quarterly national accounts is published around 17 weeks after the end of the reference quarter and contains updated output, income and expenditure data along with some other economic statistics (the equivalent UK release is around 13 weeks).
  • Fully balanced annual GDP estimates are produced in the Supply and Use Tables which are published around 30-36 months after the end of the refence year.

Publication dates are required to be finalised one month prior to release, but in practice are announced at least 3 months prior in the previous release, and follow a regular schedule through the year. To date, the GDP statistical bulletins have always met the final pre-announced publication dates, except for the first estimate for 2012 Q3 which was delayed by two weeks to enable additional quality assurance work during the major methodology update to introduce the standard industrial classification SIC2007.


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