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Recent average revision is negligible between first and third estimates of GDP

Released: 30 May 2012 Download PDF

Over the last five years the average GDP revision between the preliminary and third month estimates of GDP is -0.02 percentage points, according to a new article published today by ONS. The average absolute revision, without regard to whether the revision is positive or negative, has been 0.13 percentage points.

The preliminary estimate of GDP is published only 25 days after the end of each quarter and contains 44 per cent of the data. Today’s article shows the revisions between it and the third estimate, which is published 13 weeks after the end of the quarter and contains 92 per cent of the data, remain small. This shows that there would be no gain in quality from delaying the preliminary estimate of GDP.

The article also shows that recent average absolute revisions between the third estimate and the latest estimate have been larger than over the previous 10 years. Between 1998 and 2007, the average revision was +0.2 percentage points and the average absolute revision 0.4 percentage points. Since Q1 2008, the average revision has been -0.2 percentage points and the average absolute revision 0.7 percentage points. These figures are affected by the methodological improvements introduced in the 2011 Blue Book - in particular, the change to CPI from RPI based deflation. But they also reflect the greater volatility of the economy, which complicates the task of measurement.

Background notes

  1. To read the full article on GDP revisions see: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/guide-method/method-quality/specific/economy/national-accounts/methodology-and-articles/2011-present/why-is-gdp-revised-.pdf
  2. Follow ONS on www.twitter.com/statisticsONS, like ONS at www.facebook.com/statisticsONS  or view the latest podcasts at: www.youtube.com/ONSstats
  3. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available from the media office.
  4. National Statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference.
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