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How Fast do Personal Computers Depreciate? Concepts and New Estimates

In: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 18

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  • Mark E. Doms
  • Wendy F. Dunn
  • Stephen D. Oliner
  • Daniel E. Sichel

Abstract

This paper provides new estimates of depreciation rates for personal computers using an extensive database of prices of used PCs. Our results show that PCs lose roughly half their remaining value, on average, with each additional year of use. We decompose that decline into age-related depreciation and a revaluation effect, where the latter effect is driven by the steep ongoing drop in the constant-quality prices of newly-introduced PCs. Our results are directly applicable for measuring the depreciation of PCs in the National Income and Product Accounts (NIPAs) and were incorporated into the December 2003 comprehensive NIPA revision. Regarding tax policy, our estimates suggest that the current tax depreciation schedule for PCs closely tracks the actual loss of value in a zero-inflation environment. However, because the tax code is not indexed for inflation, the tax allowances would be too small in present value for inflation rates above the very low level now prevailing.

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This chapter was published in:

  • James Poterba, 2004. "Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 18," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number pote04-1.
    This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 10869.

    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:10869

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    1. Auerbach, Alan J., 1982. "Tax neutrality and the social discount rate : A suggested framework," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 355-372, April.
    2. Jane G. Gravelle, 1994. "The Economic Effects of Taxing Capital Income," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262071584, December.
    3. Ernst R. Berndt & Neal J. Rappaport, 2001. "Price and Quality of Desktop and Mobile Personal Computers: A Quarter-Century Historical Overview," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 268-273, May.
    4. Akerlof, George A, 1970. "The Market for 'Lemons': Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500, August.
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    Cited by:
    1. John Hassler & Per Krusell & Kjetil Storesletten & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2007. "On the Optimal Timing of Capital Taxes," IEW - Working Papers 343, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    2. Michael J. Geske & Valerie A. Ramey & Matthew D. Shapiro, 2004. "Why Do Computers Depreciate?," NBER Working Papers 10831, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
      • Michael J. Geske & Valerie A. Ramey & Matthew D. Shapiro, 2007. "Why Do Computers Depreciate?," NBER Chapters, in: Hard-to-Measure Goods and Services: Essays in Honor of Zvi Griliches, pages 121-150 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Bloom, Nicholas & Sadun, Raffaella & Van Reenen, John, 2007. "Americans Do I.T. Better: US Multinationals and the Productivity Miracle," CEPR Discussion Papers 6291, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Mirko Draca & Raffaella Sadun & John Van Reenen, 2006. "Productivity and ICT: a review of the evidence," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 4561, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    5. Andreas Hornstein, 2004. "(Un)balanced growth," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Fall, pages 25-45.
    6. Jason G. Cummins, 2003. "A New Approach to the Valuation of Intangible Capital," NBER Working Papers 9924, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Alice Albonico & Sarantis Kalyvitis & Evi Pappa, . "Capital Maintenance and Depreciation over the Business Cycle," DEOS Working Papers 1326, Athens University of Economics and Business.
    8. Mark C. Doms, 2004. "The boom and bust in information technology investment," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, pages 19-34.
    9. Antonopoulos, Christos & Sakellaris, Plutarchos, 2009. "The contribution of Information and Communication Technology investments to Greek economic growth: An analytical growth accounting framework," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 171-191, August.

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