Economic Information

Economic Information


information about economic relations and the processes of social reproduction; the information is used in the system of management of the national economy alongside other types of information, such as technical information that reflects the interrelationships among the physical elements of production. From the standpoint of persons receiving the reports and data, economic information is valuable only to the extent that it is new and useful for solving some problems in the national economy.

Economic information may be classified by content as follows: (1) by phases and processes of reproduction—information on production, distribution, exchange, and consumption; (2) by elements (or factors) of reproduction—information on population and labor resources, natural resources, output and services, monetary capital, and the like; and (3) by the structural units represented—sectors of the national economy, economic regions, enterprises and organizations, and so forth. From another point of view, it is important to classify economic information by its affiliation with a particular management function: planning economic information, which is developed during the planning process; accounting and statistical data, which arise from the functions of accounting and analysis; normative economic information; parity-check data; forecast data; and other types.

Economic information may be classified as background or management information depending on its effect on the user. Background information contains facts used in substantiating decisions. Management information contains the results of decisions that have been made and are being conveyed to others to be carried out. Management information may be presented in the form of direct assignments or as economic and other types of incentive that affect the behavior or functioning of the objects of management.

Directed and undirected economic information are distinguished by the method of delivery to users. Directed information is presented to one or several specific addressees, usually in standardized document form on a uniform time schedule. Undirected economic information has general application, and users will usually search it out themselves when the need arises.

Economic information is transmitted and processed in the form of symbols recorded on various carriers. The symbol systems used to represent economic information constitute economic information languages. Natural language is their common basis, but in economic management a vocabulary and standardized forms of expression have been developed that are specific to the economic information languages; this has occurred mainly in connection with the widespread use of standard tabular documents in flows of economic information. The use of computer technology to process economic information promotes the spread of various types of artificial languages: classifier-type languages, descriptor-type information languages, and others. The USSR is developing and introducing the Uniform System of Classification and Coding of Technical and Economic Information (ESKK TEI). Its purpose is to ensure uniform (within the country), unambiguous, and formalized representation of the elements of economic information. By 1977, 20 all-Union classifiers and systems of designations had been formulated and ratified as part of the ESKK. They included classifiers for branches of the national economy; industrial, agricultural, and construction output; minerals; work and services in various sectors; enterprises and organizations; and units of measure. Work began in the mid–1970’s on an all-Union classifier of technical and economic indicators (OKTEP), which will have a central place in the ESKK. It will create the prerequisites for the ESKK to develop in the direction of formulating compatible information languages to describe economic information with the wide use of computers. In addition to the ESKK, a set of standardized document systems is being devised, to include accounting, report, planning, design, production-engineering, and other documents.

The indicator (index) is the typical form of expression of quantitative data for economic information. It may be a variable that characterizes one of the properties of the economic object depicted or a quantitative value for the variable. Qualitatively, an indicator is defined by a set of significant features; quantitatively, it is determined by measurement or calculation. Indicators of economic information may be consolidated into a system by establishing various relationships among them. The system forms the methodological foundation of the overall system of collecting and processing economic information and ensures that allquantitative data can be combined and compared.

The functions performed by different management bodies within the system of national economic management are joined by flows of economic information. In turn, such flows reflect the entire functional and organizational structure of management. Flows of economic information may be described in terms of direction, composition, intensity, and time. With respect to direction, there are horizontal flows (connecting management bodies at the same level) and vertical flows (ascending and descending, connecting management bodies at different levels). The composition of information flows is determined by the content of the messages transmitted. The intensity is defined by the volume of data transmitted per unit of time. With respect to time, economic information may be periodic (daily, monthly, annual, and the like) or nonperiodic (occasional or when deviations occur).

The bulk of economic information in circulation is made up of primary and bookkeeping data (within enterprises), transportation and payment-charge documents (in circulation between enterprises), bookkeeping and statistical reports, planning and normative documents, and operational management information. According to the findings of various studies, the annual internal circulation of recorded economic data within an industrial enterprise is from 50,000 to 2 million documents (from 3.5 million to 100 million indicators). The external circulation (volume of input and output data) of an industrial enterprise is approximately 100,000 documents and 1 million indicators per year. Of this, transportation and payment-charge documents account for 80–90 percent of the documents and 40–50 percent of the indicators. An industrial enterprise submits an average of 60,000–80,000 indicators per year in statistical and bookkeeping reports. The largest processing center for economic information is the network of institutions of the State Bank of the USSR (Gosbank), which manages more than 1 million accounts for 570,000 enterprises and organizations, concentrating information on all primary processes of production, distribution, and circulation of the social product. The principal methodological and organizational center for accounting and statistical economic information is the Central Statistical Board under the Council of Ministers of the USSR.

The chief lines of development of the current system of economic information stem from the challenge of improving the management of the national economy and puttin g it on a new technical basis. The growing complexity of management functions demands greater thoroughness, timeliness, and reliability of economic information; the introduction of modern computers, communications equipment, and the like creates the necessary preconditions for meeting such demands. Qualitative changes in the system of economic information are linked with the sequential development (following the decisions of the Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth congresses of the CPSU) of the all-Union system for the collection and processing of information for accounting, planning, and management. The system of economic information is being integrated by stages on a new technical basis. It will provide comprehensive use of an essential minimum of collected data and the maximum possible extraction of information from such data to solve the multifaceted problems of management.


Maiminas, E. Z. Protsessy planirovaniia v ekonomike: informatsionnyi aspekt, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1971.
Ekonomicheskaia informatsiia: Metodologicheskie problemy. Moscow, 1974.
lasin, E. G. Ekonomicheskaia informatsiia: Chto eto takoe? Moscow, 1976.


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