CRIW (Conference on Research in Income and Wealth)

The Challenges of Globalization in
the Measurement of National Accounts

Nadim Ahmad, Brent Moulton, J. David Richardson, and Peter van de Ven, Organizers

Nadim Ahmad (OECD), Brent Moulton (BEA), J. David Richardson (Syracuse University Emeritus), and Peter van de Ven (OECD) invite you to submit papers to be presented at a conference on the challenges posed to national accounting systems by multinational enterprises, global production arrangements, intellectual property transactions and profit shifting.

The conference will provide economists, statisticians and analysts from government, academia, business, and non-profit organizations the opportunity to discuss and explore measurement challenges and data developments in these areas. The conference will be held in Washington, D.C., on March 9-10, 2018.

Location: Washington D.C.
Date: March 9-10, 2018.

About the Sponsor: The Conference on Research in Income and Wealth (CRIW) was founded in 1936 to advance the cause of measurement in economics. CRIW brings together economists from government, academia, business, and non-profit organizations to discuss problems of mutual interest.

Background: The System of National Accounts 2008, the international standard for compiling national accounts, focuses on economic units that are resident in a particular economic territory. Multinational enterprises are, by contrast, generally organized as conglomerates in which a parent corporation controls chains of subsidiaries that are resident in many different countries. Such enterprises “locate” their resources, including inherently mobile knowledge-based capital such as R&D, and organize the provision of corporate services in order to increase the value of the enterprise. Such locational decisions do not necessarily correspond to natural conceptions of production locations. They often lead to intra-company transactions and pricing that are motivated more by taxation and regulation than by economic incentives. Consequently, measures of the allocation of value added across countries may in turn be distorted. In addition, the rapidly changing nature of global production arrangements has given rise to new types of producers (e.g. "factoryless goods producers"). Together these phenomena may create varieties of “offshoring bias” in conventional calculations of GDP, productivity, and their sectoral decomposition.

Purpose: The purpose of this conference is to provide a forum where economists, data providers and data analysts can meet to present research on more meaningful national and multinational measurement. This might involve:
- Expanding the set of measures available for analyzing trade and investment flows, global value added chains, and the impact of outsourcing;
- Conceptual and measurement work that uses disaggregated data along with appropriate methods of aggregation to develop better and internationally-comparable measures of multinational economic activity;
- Development of measures and methods that allow us to disentangle distortions created by the organization and tax structure of multinational enterprises to better understand the real economic changes that are occurring under the surface of these entities.
Presenting authors will have their papers formally discussed by participants drawn from academia, government, business and non-academic research institutions.

Paper submission topics might include:

Conceptual and accounting issues.
- Do new types of global production arrangements require new fundamentals of accounting for the production, income, assets, and liabilities of a nation, including meaningful measures of saving and investment? Do they require new approaches to price and volume measures?
- How can the national accounts better lend themselves to making international comparisons and to tracking and understanding global production processes?
- What changes are needed in national accounts compilation to support better assessment and measurement of global production processes? How can these changes help to improve the recent World Input-Output Database and the OECD-WTO Trade in Value Added initiative?

Impact of transfer pricing and tax avoidance.
- To what extent do tax avoidance strategies - especially toward intellectual property and other knowledge-based capital - distort measures of GDP and productivity and their components?
- What approaches to measurement are able to produce more economically relevant measures of economic activity?

Contract manufacturers, processors, and factoryless goods producers.
- How are these entities currently reflected in economic data, and how can their activities best be measured? How prevalent are they? How important?
- How are GDP and productivity measurements affected by these various types of sourcing arrangements?
- What are the possible implications for measures of manufacturing and services trade and investment?

Offshoring bias.
- Are we able to quantify the magnitude of offshoring bias on GDP or on industry and economy-wide productivity? Has the bias grown in magnitude, in scope across countries, or in incidence across industries?
- What changes need to be made by the statistical system to address or correct for this bias? Are these changes feasible?

Abstracts are invited for submission to the conference organizers by March 1, 2017. Please upload your extended abstract to:

The extended abstract should explain clearly what you will do and (if appropriate) what data you plan to use. Decisions will be made by April 30, 2017. Conference versions of papers will be due approximately 1 month prior to the conference date. We anticipate that papers will have discussants.

The papers from the conference will become part of an NBER/CRIW Conference volume to be published by the NBER/University of Chicago Press. All papers will be subject to review by the editors and referees from the NBER and the University of Chicago Press.

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