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Capitalizing R&D Expenditures

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  • Diewert, W. Erwin
  • Huang, Ning

Abstract

The next international version of the System of National Accounts will recommend that R&D (Research and Development) expenditures be capitalized instead of being immediately expensed as in the present System of National Accounts 1993. An R&D project creates a new technology, which in principle does not depreciate like a reproducible asset. A new technology is however subject to obsolescence, which acts in a manner that is somewhat similar to depreciation. The paper looks at the net benefits of an R&D project in the context of a very simple intertemporal general equilibrium model and suggests that R&D expenditures be amortized using the matching principle that has been developed in the accounting literature to match the fixed costs of a project to a stream of future benefits. Of particular interest is the evaluation of the net benefits of a publicly funded project where the results are made freely available to the public.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal Macroeconomic Dynamics.

Volume (Year): 15 (2011)
Issue (Month): 04 (September)
Pages: 537-564

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Handle: RePEc:cup:macdyn:v:15:y:2011:i:04:p:537-564_00

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  1. Bert Balk, 2003. "The Residual: On Monitoring and Benchmarking Firms, Industries, and Economies with Respect to Productivity," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 5-47, July.
  2. Paul M. Romer, 1993. "New Goods, Old Theory, and the Welfare Costs of Trade Restrictions," NBER Working Papers 4452, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. W. Diewert & Alice Nakamura, 2003. "Index Number Concepts, Measures and Decompositions of Productivity Growth," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 19(2), pages 127-159, April.
  4. Adam M. Copeland & Gabriel W. Medeiros & Carol A. Robbins, 2007. "Estimating Prices for R&D Investment in the 2007 R&D Satellite Account," BEA Papers 0083, Bureau of Economic Analysis.
  5. Diewart, W Erwin & Morrison, Catherine J, 1986. "Adjusting Output and Productivity Indexes for Changes in the Terms of Trade," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 96(383), pages 659-79, September.
  6. Samuelson, Paul A, 1974. "Complementarity-An Essay on the 40th Anniversary of the Hicks-Allen Revolution in Demand Theory," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 1255-89, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Leonard I. Nakamura, 2008. "Intangible assets and national income accounting," Working Papers 08-23, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

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