Measuring Latin America

Brian Sturgess

Published: March 2014

This paper reviews the quality of official national accounting data investigated for 17 Latin American countries. Chile, which became an OECD member in 2010, stands out as a producer of the most reliable economic data and can be compared favourably with the USA and many European countries. The most significant data problems are the use of old standards of national income accounting, the use of outdated base years and the degree to which the shadow economy is underrecorded. In Argentina there is the additional problem that official published economic data has been subject to much interference in order to downplay inflation while reporting higher real national income and lower poverty data. A simple exercise is undertaken to estimate what the size of Latin American GDP might be if most countries updated their base years to 2012.

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