ISSN: 2056-3736 (Online Version) | 2056-3728 (Print Version)

An empirical and theoretical approach to a country’s economic activity based on a Social Accounting Matrix. An application to Portugal

Susana Santos

Correspondence: Susana Santos,

Lisbon School of Economics and Management, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal.

pdf (337.62 Kb) | doi:


The economic flows measured by the national accounts, which are associated with transactions of goods, services, and assets, as well as transfers, all represent interactions between institutional units, to whom legal responsibility for their actions and the fulfilment of specific economic functions is recognized. These flows are defined by the underlying system – the System of National Accounts (SNA) as being transactions. When represented in the matrix form, depending on the classification and organization of the institutional units, at the origin and the destination of the corresponding flows, the “from-whom-to-whom” transactions can be measured and modelled, benefiting from the underlying network of linkages. By adopting the nomenclatures and rules of the current version of the above-mentioned system (SNA 2008), this study uses a top-down methodology to design a matrix representation of the above-mentioned transactions - the Social Accounting Matrix (SAM). Empirical and theoretical descriptions of the economic activity of a country (Portugal is used as the illustrative case), made possible by the use of the numerical and algebraic versions of a SAM, are adopted to approach the multiplier effects of policy measures and the corresponding economic adjustments.


  National Accounts, Social Accounting Matrix, Economic Adjustments


Alikaj, M. and Alexopoulos, Y. (2014). Analysis of the Economy of Region of Western Greece. An Application of the Social Accounting Matrix (SAM). Procedia Economics and Finance, 14, 3-12.

Aray, H., Pedauga, L., and Velázquez, A. (2017). Financial Social Accounting Matrix: a useful tool for understanding the macro-financial linkages of an economy. Economic Systems Research, 29 (4), 486-508

European Union - EU (2013). European System of National and Regional Accounts in the European Union. Regulation No. 549/2013 of the European Parliament and of the European Council of 21 May 2013, Official Journal of the European Union, L174, Volume 56.

Inter-Secretariat Working Group on National Accounts (United Nations, European Commission, International Monetary Fund, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and World Bank) – ISWGNA (2009). System of National Accounts 2008, Series F, No. 2, Rev. 5, United Nations, New York.

Mainar-Causapé, A., Philippidis, G., and Sanjuán-López, A. (2021). Constructing an open access economy-wide database for bioeconomy impact assessment in the European Union member states. Economic Systems Research, 33(2), 133-156.

Pieters, J. (2010). Growth and inequality in India: analysis of an extended social accounting matrix. World Development, 38(3), 270-281.

Pyatt, G. (1991). Fundamentals of Social Accounting. Economic Systems Research, 3(3), 315-34.

Pyatt, G. (1988). A SAM Approach to Modeling. Journal of Policy Modeling, 10(3), 327-352.

Pyatt, G. and Round, J. (1985). Accounting and Fixed-Price Multipliers in a Social Accounting Matrix Framework. In: G. Pyatt, and J. Round, (Eds.), Social Accounting Matrices. A Basis for Planning. A World Bank Symposium, World Bank, 52-69.

Santos, S. (2021). Matrix representations of the national accounts’ transaction values. MPRA (Munich Personal RePEc Archive) Paper No. 109488.

Santos, S. (2018). A matrix approach to the socioeconomic activity of a country. Theoretical Economics Letters 8(4), 1083-1135.

Santos, S. (2009). From the System of National Accounts (SNA) to a Social Accounting Matrix (SAM) - Based Model. An Application to Portugal. Edições Almedina, Coimbra (Portugal).

Santos, S. (2007). Modelling Economic Circuit Flows in a Social Accounting Matrix framework. An application to Portugal. Applied Economics, 39(14), 1753-1771.

Santos, S. (2004). Portuguese net borrowing and the government budget balance. A SAM approach. Journal of Policy Modeling, 26 (6), 703-717.

Stone, R. (1986). Nobel Memorial Lecture 1984. The Accounts of Society. Journal of Applied Econometrics, 1(1), 5-28.

Tarp, F., Roland-Holst, D., and Rand, J. (2003). Economic structure and development in an emergent Asian economy: evidence from a social accounting matrix for Vietnam. Journal of Asian Economics, 13(6), 847-871.