A. R&D in the System of National Accounts (SNA)

Description: The System of National Accounts, 2008 (2008 SNA) is a statistical framework that provides a comprehensive set of macroeconomic accounts for policy and research purposes. The 2008 SNA recognized R&D as investment or produced asset in an economy (SNA 6.230, 10.98). R&D is defined in paragraph 10.103 (chapter 10 "The capital account," section B "Gross capital formation").


10.103 Intellectual property products include the results of research and development (R&D). Research and [experimental] development consists of the value of expenditures on creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society, and use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications.

Source: United Nations (UN) Statistical Division—2008 System of National Accounts.

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B. Measuring R&D in global economic activities

Guidance for official statistics on trade, investment, and international production (called global value chains (GVCs) in recent economics and policy research literature) explicitly cover R&D and related intangible assets under the heading of "intellectual property products" (IPP). (In addition to R&D, IPPs include software and databases, entertainment, literary or artistic originals, and the results from mineral exploration.) The information below briefly covers selected international statistical manuals.

The Handbook uses the SNA 2008 R&D definition (10.103) and describes domestic R&D output for purposes of national and international economic accounts in terms of three components consistent with both the SNA and Frascati: own account R&D (R&D conducted and used internally regardless of funding source); custom R&D (R&D conducted for, and funded by, another unit); and speculative or non-customized R&D.

This manual covers accounting and statistical standards to compile the balance of payments (BOP), a statement that summarizes economic transactions—including R&D and other IPP—between residents and nonresidents (BMP6 2.2(b)). BPM6 incorporated R&D as an intellectual property product within the balance of payments (see BPM6 Table 10.4 and related text).

This manual describes definitions and measurement procedures for FDI flows and stocks consistent with the Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual. It also covers definitions of activities of multinational enterprises (MNEs) (AMNE for short) including sales, value added, employment, R&D, and international trade.[3]

This manual covers statistics on international supply of services, including R&D services as defined in MSITS paragraph 3.234.


3.234. Research and development services covers those services that are associated with basic research, applied research and experimental development of new products and processes and covers activities in the physical sciences, the social sciences and the humanities.

This manual further elaborates on measurement issues from GVCs and related global manufacturing arrangements and transactions, including exchanges of R&D and other intangibles or intellectual property products. See especially chapter 4 (Ownership of intellectual property products inside global production).

Source: OCED, Frascati Manual 7.0, "Measurement of R&D Globalisation," chapter 11. Available at http://oe.cd/frascati.

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[3] For related definitions see Statistics on the Activities of Multinational Enterprises, Chapter 12 in U.S. International Economic Accounts: Concepts & Methods, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, 2014.