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System of National Accounts (SNA)

Updated: March 30, 2022
  • The System of National Accounts (SNA) is the internationally agreed standard set of recommendations on how to compile measures of economic activity.
  • The SNA describes a coherent, consistent and integrated set of macroeconomic accounts in the context of a set of internationally agreed concepts, definitions, classifications and accounting rules.
  • The SNA is intended for use by all countries, having been designed to accommodate the needs of countries at different stages of economic development.

National income measurement is governed by a global standard: the United Nations System of National Accounts (SNA) - an internationally agreed standard set of recommendations on how to compile and measure economic activity and facilitate international comparability of economic statistics. The first SNA was published in 1953 and there have been three revisions SNA 1968, SNA 1993, and SNA 2008.

The longer it takes a country to update its SNA the less reliable the data becomes, particularly when used for economic comparisons to a country with a more recent SNA version. In the World Economics Data Quality Ratings, the newer the SNA version, the higher a country’s score.

Information on individual country’s SNA is taken from the World Bank’s World Development Indicators (WDI), IMF World Economic Outlook Report, United Nations and National Statistics Offices.