DP11594 | Is the output growth rate in NIPA a welfare measure?

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11/01/2016

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Abstract

National Income and Product Accounts (NIPA) measure real output growth by means of a Fisher ideal chain index. Bridging modern macroeconomics and the economic theory of index numbers, this paper shows that output growth as measured by NIPA is welfare based. In a dynamic general equilibrium model with general recursive preferences and technology, welfare depends on present and future consumption. Indeed, the associated Bellman equation provides a representation of preferences in the domain of current consumption and current investment. Applying standard index number theory to this representation of preferences shows that the Fisher-Shell true quantity index is equal to the Divisia index, in turn well approximated by the Fisher ideal index used in NIPA.