In aggregate terms, Ireland’s national income in 2021 was around €230 billion (using modified Gross National Income, GNI*). This comes from an economy where the aggregate turnover is probably around €1 trillion. There is a lot of money flowing around but as is often quoted but rarely attributed: “turnover is vanity, profit is sanity and cash is reality.”
The table shows a progression from turnover to production value. All bar the top two rows are in line with the latest estimates for 2021 from the CSO. Aggregate figures for turnover and for the cost of goods and services purchased for resale in same condition as received are not provided by the CSO within Ireland’s national accounts but the figures shown are within the ballpark. Turnover is not significant within the national accounts framework where the emphasis is on production, value added and income. The sequence shown isn’t how the national accounts are compiled but can serve as a setting off for examining where our income comes from.
Goods and Services Purchases for Resale in Same Condition as Received
Of the roughly €1 trillion of turnover in the Irish economy in 2021, around €300 billion was due to the selling, both wholesaling and retailing, of goods and services that somebody else made. Those doing the selling are looking to gain a small margin. The wholesale sector in Ireland (G46) has a turnover of around €150 billion, some of which is linked to MNC-activities, while the more domestically-orientated retail sector (G47) has a turnover of around €50 billion. Both have operating margins in the low single digits. It will also be the case that the same goods will be included in the turnover of both. The turnover of wholesalers includes sales to retailers and the turnover of retailers is based on the sale of those same goods to customers. Subtracting the cost of goods and services sold in the same condition as purchased leaves around €700 billion of turnover from goods and services that are made – market output. This is the value of output that is produced for sale at market prices.
There will also be output that does not get picked up in turnover. There are two main types of non-market output. There is output that is produced by someone for own final use and output that is produced for sale at prices that are not economically significant.
There are lots of activities that could be included in production for own final use and around €35 billion of such activity was included in the national accounts for 2021. One of the main elements is the housing services that owner-occupier households provide to themselves. Owner-occupiers do not buy the housing services that they consume, but instead own the asset that produces them. An imputed value is included in the national accounts for the housing services produced, and consumed, by owner-occupier households. These are based on market rents and around €18.5 billion of such imputed rents were included in non-market output in 2021. Household cooking and cleaning undertaken by workers who are paid is also included in output but any cooking and cleaning done by households themselves is not.
Firms can also produce output for their own final use but as firms do not undertake final consumption their output for own final use only includes capital assets, as capital formation is a final use. Firm may have in-house production of capital assets such as machinery, software, and research and development. They do not sell the capital assets produced but use them in their own production. The 2021 figure is not yet available but in 2020, businesses in Ireland in the industry sector (NACE C) produced around €15 billion of capital assets for their own final use.
There is also non-market output which is provided at prices that are not economically significant (which includes having no price at all). The most important component of this other non-market output is the provision of health, education, and other services by the government sector. There will also be some non-market output from non-profit institutions serving households. In total, the value of such non-market output was estimated to be €50 billion in 2021. As there is no market price this value is based on the costs of production, of which labour costs will be the most significant in many instances. While consistent and measurable, the sum-of-costs approach does mean that such non-market output can potentially be undervalued relative to output included using market prices.
Changes in Stocks
As we want to get the production value within a particular time period (such as a year) an adjustment is made for changes in stocks. It could be that some of this year’s turnover is derived from the sale of goods made last year (i.e., a decline in stocks) or there could be output made this year that is not sold (i.e., an increase in stocks). In 2021, it is estimated that more output was produced during the year than was sold during the year which resulted in a positive figure for the change in stocks, of around €5 billion.
Adding these four items: market output (€700 billion), output for own final use (€35 billion), other non-market output (€50 billion), and changes in stocks (+€5 billion) gets us to the total value of goods and services produced in the economy and included in the national accounts. Thus, the value of production in the Irish economy was estimated to be €790 billion in 2021. In a future post, we will pick up the sequence and follow how this production value is transposed into GDP and subsequently to National Income.