National Transfer Accounts Project

The project was started by Andrew Mason of the Univeristy of Hawaii and Ronald Lee of the University of California at Berkeley.  Currently, academics from nearly 30 countries are involved.  David McCarthy, and his colleague from Imperial College, Prof James Sefton, are the lead researchers for the UK part of the project. 

National Transfer Accounts (NTA) is a system for measuring economic flows across age at the aggregate level in a manner consistent with national accounting measures. These flows arise primarily because of a fundamental feature of the economic lifecycle: children and the elderly consume more than they produce through their labor. NTA provides estimates of the components of the economic lifecycle and the interage flows that inevitably arise. The accounts distinguish the economic form of flows, transfers and asset-based flows and the institutions that mediate the flows, government and private institutions - most importantly the family.

When complete National Transfer Accounts will provide estimates with sufficient historical depth to study the evolution of intergenerational transfer systems; the consequences of alternative approaches to age reallocations embodied in public policy with respect to pensions, health care, education and social institutions, e.g., the extended family; and the social, political, and economic implications of population aging.

A first stage in the project is producing life-cycle deficits, which illustrate the extent to which transfers are made to, or from, individuals of different ages.  For instance, preliminary estimates of life-cycle deficits from different wstern European countries are shown below.  Hopefully we will soon add the UK to this figure!

 

You can see more details about the NTA project at the website www.ntaccounts.org