Measurement in Accounting

Introduction

Measurement in accounting is an important aspect. All transactions and events are measured in terms of money. A measurement discipline deals with the identification of objects and events to be measured, selection of standards or scale to be used, and evaluation of dimension of measurement standard or scale.

Prof. R.J. Chambers has defined measurement as ‘assignment of numbers to objects and events according to rules specifying the property to be measured, the scale to be used and dimension of the unit.’

As per above definition, there are three elements of measurement i.e.

  1. Identification of objects and events to be measured
  2. Selection of standard or scale to be used
  3. Evaluation of dimension of measurement standard or scale

Now we shall discuss these elements in detail:

OBJECTS OR EVENTS TO BE MEASURED

As accounting is the process of identifying, measuring and communicating economic information to enable judgment and decisions by the users of the financial statements. Decision makers require past, present and future information. Hence, measurement is vital to serving their needs.

The point worth noting here is that past and present objects and events can be measured with some degree of accuracy but future events can only be predicated. Prediction is also an essential part of the accounting information. Decision makers need to take decisions about unseen future which can be served by accounting measurement.

STANDARD OF MEASUREMENT

Money is the common unit of measurement in accounting although now a day’s quantitative information is also being supplied along with monetary information.

Money as a measurement scale has no universal denomination. It takes the shape of currency ruling in the country. For example, in Australia measurement scale is Australian Dollar, in India Rupees (`), in USA Dollar ($) and so on.

Suppose a businessman in India took a loan of $5000 from the USA, he would have to record this transaction in terms of rupees in his books of account. Let the exchange rate was 1$= ` 60. The loan amount will be entered for Rs. 300000 in books of account. Further the rate of exchange changes to 1$= ` 65 on the closing day of books of account. The amount of loan to be shown on the balance sheet as at closing day will be 325000. Hence, money as the unit of measurement has no universal application. As the rate of exchange fluctuates, money as a measurement scale also becomes volatile. An ideal measurement scale must be stable over time. For example, if a person buys 1 kg of Potatoes today, quantity will be same if he buys 1 kg potatoes one year later. Similarly, the length of one meter of cloth will be same one year later. But if we see money as a measurement unit, it keeps on changing it is affected by many factors like exchange rate fluctuation, interest rate and inflation etc. hence, we cannot call it an ideal unit of measurement infact whole accounting is based on this.

EVALUATION OF MEASUREMENT STANDARD

We have been already discussed that accounting is meant to generate information suitable to user’s requirements. Measurement is an important part of accounting discipline. As a measurement discipline, accounting data is measured in terms of money only. Quantitaive information is also being supplied in many cases but such information is supplementary only to monetary information.

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