Bridge over Troubled Water: Is It Possible to Define other Comprehensive Income?

Thomas Ryttersgaard

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Although other comprehensive income did not exist in the conceptual framework until 2018, it has been a part of IFRS for many years, and it has not been defined based on accounting theory. This paper considers arguments for the current use of other comprehensive income under IFRS and finds that matching and prudence are at the core of other comprehensive income in IFRS despite not being elements of the conceptual framework. This suggests that the concept of other comprehensive income exists because the IFRS standards are founded on a mix of balance sheet-based and income statement-based accounting principles. Based on the characteristics of other comprehensive income and the IASB’s arguments for the recognition of gains and losses in other comprehensive income, this paper proposes a definition of other comprehensive income that can be used to ensure a uniform application of the concept across accounting standards and to reduce risks of inconsistency.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFinancial Reporting
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)61-87
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Financial reporting
  • Other comprehensive income
  • Conceptual framework
  • Measurement

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