Gross Domestic Product - Determining GDP - Expenditure Approach - Examples of GDP Component Variables

Examples of GDP Component Variables

C, I, G, and NX(net exports): If a person spends money to renovate a hotel to increase occupancy rates, the spending represents private investment, but if he buys shares in a consortium to execute the renovation, it is saving. The former is included when measuring GDP (in I), the latter is not. However, when the consortium conducted its own expenditure on renovation, that expenditure would be included in GDP.

If a hotel is a private home, spending for renovation would be measured as consumption, but if a government agency converts the hotel into an office for civil servants, the spending would be included in the public sector spending, or G.

If the renovation involves the purchase of a chandelier from abroad, that spending would be counted as C, G, or I (depending on whether a private individual, the government, or a business is doing the renovation), but then counted again as an import and subtracted from the GDP so that GDP counts only goods produced within the country.

If a domestic producer is paid to make the chandelier for a foreign hotel, the payment would not be counted as C, G, or I, but would be counted as an export.

A "production boundary" that delimits what will be counted as GDP.

"One of the fundamental questions that must be addressed in preparing the national economic accounts is how to define the production boundary–that is, what parts of the myriad human activities are to be included in or excluded from the measure of the economic production."

All output for market is at least in theory included within the boundary. Market output is defined as that which is sold for "economically significant" prices; economically significant prices are "prices which have a significant influence on the amounts producers are willing to supply and purchasers wish to buy." An exception is that illegal goods and services are often excluded even if they are sold at economically significant prices (Australia and the United States exclude them).

This leaves non-market output. It is partly excluded and partly included. First, "natural processes without human involvement or direction" are excluded. Also, there must be a person or institution that owns or is entitled to compensation for the product. An example of what is included and excluded by these criteria is given by the United States' national accounts agency: "the growth of trees in an uncultivated forest is not included in production, but the harvesting of the trees from that forest is included."

Within the limits so far described, the boundary is further constricted by "functional considerations." The Australian Bureau for Statistics explains this: "The national accounts are primarily constructed to assist governments and others to make market-based macroeconomic policy decisions, including analysis of markets and factors affecting market performance, such as inflation and unemployment." Consequently, production that is, according to them, "relatively independent and isolated from markets," or "difficult to value in an economically meaningful way" is excluded. Thus excluded are services provided by people to members of their own families free of charge, such as child rearing, meal preparation, cleaning, transportation, entertainment of family members, emotional support, care of the elderly. Most other production for own (or one's family's) use is also excluded, with two notable exceptions which are given in the list later in this section.

Nonmarket outputs that are included within the boundary are listed below. Since, by definition, they do not have a market price, the compilers of GDP must impute a value to them, usually either the cost of the goods and services used to produce them, or the value of a similar item that is sold on the market.

  • Goods and services provided by governments and non-profit organizations free of charge or for economically insignificant prices are included. The value of these goods and services is estimated as equal to their cost of production. This ignores the consumer surplus generated by an efficient and effective government supplied infrastructure. For example, government-provided clean water confers substantial benefits above its cost. Ironically, lack of such infrastructure which would result in higher water prices (and probably higher hospital and medication expenditures) would be reflected as a higher GDP. This may also cause a bias that mistakenly favors inefficient privatizations since some of the consumer surplus from privatized entities' sale of goods and services are indeed reflected in GDP.
  • Goods and services produced for own-use by businesses are attempted to be included. An example of this kind of production would be a machine constructed by an engineering firm for use in its own plant.
  • Renovations and upkeep by an individual to a home that she owns and occupies are included. The value of the upkeep is estimated as the rent that she could charge for the home if she did not occupy it herself. This is the largest item of production for own use by an individual (as opposed to a business) that the compilers include in GDP. If the measure uses historical or book prices for real estate, this will grossly underestimate the value of the rent in real estate markets which have experienced significant price increases (or economies with general inflation). Furthermore, depreciation schedules for houses often accelerate the accounted depreciation relative to actual depreciation (a well built house can be lived in for several hundred years – a very long time after it has been fully depreciated). In summary, this is likely to grossly underestimate the value of existing housing stock on consumers' actual consumption or income.
  • Agricultural production for consumption by oneself or one's household is included.
  • Services (such as chequeing-account maintenance and services to borrowers) provided by banks and other financial institutions without charge or for a fee that does not reflect their full value have a value imputed to them by the compilers and are included. The financial institutions provide these services by giving the customer a less advantageous interest rate than they would if the services were absent; the value imputed to these services by the compilers is the difference between the interest rate of the account with the services and the interest rate of a similar account that does not have the services. According to the United States Bureau for Economic Analysis, this is one of the largest imputed items in the GDP.

Read more about this topic:  Gross Domestic Product, Determining GDP, Expenditure Approach

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