Double Counting (accounting) - Counting Units

Counting Units

Once the principles of the value theory are established, categories and counting units can be exactly and logically defined, as a basis for mathematical operations to aggregate the flows of incomes and expenditures. All flows can then be allocated to their appropriate category, without counting the same flow several times.

In fact, the value theory applied in national accounts is nowadays strongly influenced by the valuation principles of ordinary business accounts and the prevailing social relations governing economic exchange, often fixed by law. Thus, for example, it is argued that no new value can result from a unilateral transfer of funds, i.e. where funds are provided without anything being provided in return.

The implicit assumption made in national accounts, is that the account at the macro-level must be similar to that at the micro-level. Economic relations are regarded as broadly the same at the micro-level and the macro-level. An individual business buys and uses up inputs and produces outputs for sale; it has costs and revenues. Thus, in social accounting all transactors are treated in a similar way ("as if" they were a business). The accounts can be criticised for being eclectic in some ways, but that is not necessarily a problem; the aim of the exercise is to identify and categorise all flows, and the user can then reaggregate them in different ways.

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