Or media.Beds account for a tiny share of gross domestic product even though sleep is tremendously useful to consumers, according to an academic paper presented at a conference this week in Dresden, Germany.

The authors made the point to illustrate their research into free online media and its impact, or lack of it, on official GDP figures.The wide-ranging conference hosted by the German statistics office shines a spotlight on some of the weaknesses in the century-old measure of economic well-being, arguably bolstering the case for a hunt for better methods.

Another paper looks at divergences between GDP per head and median household income -- one way of gauging inequality -- and concludes there is currently no clear choice for assessing trends in living standards.Take Facebook or Google.

Yet because they re free, the contribution to the economy isn t currently captured in national accounts.Noting that some economists believe GDP growth is badly underestimated by the failure to include free media, Leonard Nakamura of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, and Jon Samuels and Rachel Soloveichik of the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis tried to work out a number.

They imputed production and consumption figures for advertising-supported media by treating the business model as a series of barter transactions -- YouTube videos for ad views.On the face of it, the results may disappoint critics of GDP.

Including free media would have boosted real output in the U.S. between 1998 and 2012 by just 0.009 percent a year.

The text above is a summary, you can read full article here.