Here I've read the following (translated by Google)

GDP can be calculated in two ways: firstly, by origin, that is, by estimating the value of all goods and services produced, and secondly by the use side, that is, by recording total expenditure on consumer and capital goods, including external trade (the difference between the value of imported and exported goods and services).

These two calculations are always congruent, as consumption adjusted for net exports corresponds to production.

I wonder about one thing: What about all the products being produced but never sold and used: food, clothes, printed media, to name just a few. They appear only on the one side, not on the other. So how can the two numbers be congruent?

And if they are not congruent: Which of them is finally published e.g. by the German Statistisches Bundesamt?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Related: economics.stackexchange.com/questions/13070/… $\endgroup$
    – Henry
    Nov 3, 2019 at 10:37
  • $\begingroup$ I would say there are three measures of GDP: the production measure (which subtracts intermediate goods and services used in production), the expenditure measure and the income measure. They are defined to produce the same result but their calculations often fails to do so $\endgroup$
    – Henry
    Nov 3, 2019 at 10:43
  • $\begingroup$ @Henry: This also astonishes me. The Statistisches Bundesamt gives sample calculations where the production and expenditure measures yield exactly the same result, up to 0.00001%. This is completely implausible in my opinion. But even if the results do agree only up to 0.1% (which would be very good!) - this would not justify to say that the BIP has grown by 0.1% over the last year, would it? $\endgroup$ Nov 3, 2019 at 13:32
  • $\begingroup$ Hans: Many national statistics agencies balance their various measures of GDP to make them add up to the same thing. In the UK last year, the ONS wrote a brief article about it $\endgroup$
    – Henry
    Nov 3, 2019 at 15:00
  • $\begingroup$ But the balancing produces errors which easily (?) can be larger than the change rate over time - or it should be made plausible when not. $\endgroup$ Nov 3, 2019 at 15:05

1 Answer 1


The GDP expenditure approach is the sum of consumption, private investment, government spending, and the difference between exports and imports. I have not dug into the German Statistisches Bundesamt but unsold goods should be accounted for in the expenditure approach under "change in private inventories" or "inventory investment" (grouped with private investment).

  • $\begingroup$ Even when the unsold goods are shredded or burned? $\endgroup$ Nov 3, 2019 at 0:06
  • $\begingroup$ Government spending for what? Payments by the government to whom? And isn't investment of private companies e.g. in machines exluded, as well as expenditures for intermediate products? $\endgroup$ Nov 3, 2019 at 15:28
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not sure with respect to your first question. Maybe economics.stackexchange.com/a/13071/8387 will help. Government spending is for things like building bridges. Payments usually go to government employees and contractors. Most machines you're probably thinking of are not considered intermediate products as they don't further transform into the final good. If you run a print shop, then the paper and ink that is used to produce prints is an intermediate good but the printing press itself is not. $\endgroup$ Nov 3, 2019 at 22:40

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.