The Capital Approach

Our approach to flows & stocks is motivated by WGSSD's approach in which a society's total capital base is seen to comprise five individual stocks: financial capital, produced capital, natural capital, human capital and social capital [1].

For each of these capital components one can define stock and flow indicators.


Flows reflect the creation, transformation, exchange, transfer or extinction of economic value. They involve changes in the value of an institutional unit’s assets or liabilities. Economic flows are of two kinds: transactions, and other changes in assets.


Stocks are holdings of assets and liabilities at a point in time. Stocks are recorded at the beginning and end of each accounting period. The accounts that show stocks are called balance sheets.

1. Joint UNECE/OECD/Eurostat Working Group on Statistics for Sustainable Development (WGSSD), 2009, Measuring sustainable development. Tech. rep., UNECE Statistical Division.