This paper investigates measurement errors in generally accepted figures on international transactions that are supplied by national statistical offices to the IMF and the OECD. Implicit minimal measurement errors in bilateral trade data for Germany and the Netherlands appear to be about 1.5-3 per cent. An investigation of foreign direct investment data for 20 OECD countries in the period 1950-89 shows that their accuracy has improved little if at all since the 1970s: in 15-25 per cent of the cases, implied minimal measurement errors are in excess of 10 per cent.

ISS Staff Group 0
Bulletin of Economic Research
International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS)

van Bergeijk, P.A.G. (1995). The accuracy of international economic observations. Bulletin of Economic Research, 47(1), 1–20. Retrieved from