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Difficulties in Measuring National Income

Difficulties in Measuring National Income
There are many difficulties in measuring national income of a country accurately. The difficulties involved in national income accounting are both conceptual and statical in nature. Some of these difficulties involved in the measurement of national income are discussed below:

Non Monetary Transactions

The first problem in National Income accounting relates to the treatment of non-monetary transactions such as the services of housewives to the members of the families. For example, if a man employees a maid servant for household work, payment to her will appear as a positive item in the national income. But, if the man were to marry to the maid servant, she would performing the same job as before but without any extra payments. In this case, the national income will decrease as her services performed remains the same as before.

Problem of Double Counting

Only final goods and services should be included in the national income accounting. But, it is very difficult to distinguish between final goods and intermediate goods and services. An intermediate goods and service used for final consumption. The difference between final goods and services and intermediate goods and services depends on the use of those goods and services so there are possibilities of double counting.

The Underground Economy

The underground economy consists of illegal and uncleared transactions where the goods and services are themselves illegal such as drugs, gambling, smuggling, and prostitution. Since, these incomes are not included in the national income, the national income seems to be less than the actual amount as they are not included in the accounting.

Petty Production

There are large numbers of petty producers and it is difficult to include their production in national income because they do not maintain any account.

Public Services

Another problem is whether the public services like general administration, police, army services, should be included in national income or not. It is very difficult to evaluate such services.

Transfer Payments

Individual get pension, unemployment allowance and interest on public loans, but these payments creates difficulty in the measurement of national income. These earnings are a part of individual income and they are also a part of government expenditures.

Capital Gains or Loss

When the market prices of capital assets change the owners make capital gains or loss such gains or losses are not included in national income.

Price Changes

National income is the money value of goods and services. Money value depends on market price, which often changes. The problem of changing prices is one of the major problems of national income accounting. Due to price rises the value of national income for particular year appends to increase even when the production is decreasing.

Wages and Salaries paid in Kind

Additional payments made in kind may not be included in national income. But, the facilities given in kind are calculated as the supplements of wages and salaries on the income side.

Illiteracy and Ignorance

The main problem is whether to include the income generated within the country or even generated abroad in national income and which method should be used in the measurement of national income.

Besides these, the following points are also represents the difficulties in national income accounting:

  • Second hand transactions;
  • Environment damages;
  • Calculation of depreciation;
  • Inadequate and unreliable statistics; etc.


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