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The Social Accounting Matrix Approach


An increasingly widely-accepted approach to structural representation of economies is the Social Accounting Matrix (SAM). Further, SAMs are most often represented within general equilibrium models (GEMS) of some form.

A SAM integrates a multi-sector input-output representation of an economy with the broader system of national accounts, also critically representing flows of funds among societal agents/institutions and the balance of payments with the outside world. Richard Stone is the acknowledged father of social accounting matrices, which emerged from his participation in setting up the first systems of national accounts or SNA (see Pesaran and Harcourt 1999 on Stone’s work and Stone 1986). Many others have pushed the concepts and use of SAMs forward, including Pyatt (Pyatt and Round 1985) and Thorbecke (2001). So, too, have many who have extended the use of SAMs into new frontiers. One such frontier is the additional representation of environmental inputs and outputs and the creation of what are coming to be known as social and environmental accounting matrices or SEAMs (see Pan 2000). Another very productive extension is into the connection between SAMs and technological systems of a society (see Khan 1998; Duchin 1999). It is fitting that the 1993 revision of the System of National Accounts by the United Nations has begun explicitly to move the SNA into the world of SAMs.

The structural system portrayed by SAMs is well represented by stocks, flows, and key relationships. Although the traditional SAM matrix itself is a flow matrix, IFs has introduced a parallel stock matrix that captures the accumulation of assets and liabilities across various agent-classes. The dynamic elements that determine the flows within the SAM involve key relationships, such as that which constrains government spending or forces increased revenue raising when government indebtedness rises.

Click here to learn more about the SAM in IFs.