China Changes GDP Data Calculation Method to Improve Accuracy

China’s statistics bureau said on Wednesday it has changed the way quarterly gross domestic product data is calculated, a move it calls a step to adopt international standards and improve the accuracy of Chinese numbers.

There has long been widespread scepticism about the reliability of Chinese data, especially as the government has sought to tamp market expectations of a protracted slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy.

The move by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) comes after China said in July its annual growth rate in the second quarter was 7.0 percent, the same as in January-March. Many economists believe the April-June pace was lower.

The combined economic output of China’s provinces has long exceeded that of the national level compiled by the bureau, raising suspicion that some growth-obsessed local officials have cooked the books.

Now, China is calculating GDP based on economic activity of each quarter to make the data “more accurate in measuring the seasonal economic activity and more sensitive in capturing information on short-term fluctuations”, the NBS said.

Previously, China’s quarterly GDP data, in terms of value and growth rates, was derived from cumulated figures rather than economic activity of that particular quarter, the bureau said.

The new methodology – in line with that of major developed countries – will pave the way for China to adopt the International Monetary Fund’s Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS) in calculating GDP, it said.


Craig Erlam
Based in London, England, Craig Erlam joined OANDA in 2015 as a Market Analyst. With more than five years' experience as a financial market analyst and trader, he focuses on both fundamental and technical analysis while conducting macroeconomic commentary. He has been published by The Financial Times, Reuters, the BBC and The Telegraph, and he also appears regularly as a guest commentator on Bloomberg TV, CNBC, FOX Business and BNN. Craig holds a full membership to the Society of Technical Analysts and he is recognized as a Certified Financial Technician by the International Federation of Technical Analysts.