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Measuring the Returns to R&D: The Depreciation Problem

In: Contributions in Memory of Zvi Griliches

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  • Bronwyn H. Hall

Abstract

Measuring the private returns to R&D requires knowledge of its private depreciation or obsolescence rate, which is inherently variable and responds to competitive pressure. Nevertheless, most of the previous literature has used a constant depreciation rate to construct R&D capital stocks and measure the returns to R&D, a rate usually equal to 15 per cent. In this paper I review the implications of this assumption for the measurement of returns using two different methodologies: one based on the production function and another that uses firm market value to infer returns. Under the assumption that firms choose their R&D investment optimally, that is, marginal expected benefit equals marginal cost, I show that both estimates of returns can be inverted to derive an implied depreciation rate for R&D capital. I then test these ideas on a large unbalanced panel of U.S. manufacturing firms for the years 1974 to 2003. The two methods do not agree, in that the production function approach suggests depreciation rates near zero (or even appreciation) whereas the market value approach implies depreciation rates ranging from 20 to 40 per cent, depending on the period. The concluding section discusses the possible reasons for this finding.

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This chapter was published in:

  • Jacques Mairesse & Manuel Trajtenberg, 2010. "Contributions in Memory of Zvi Griliches," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number mair10-1, October.
    This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 12239.

    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:12239

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    References

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    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
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    1. Ekeland, Ivar & Heckman, James J. & Nesheim, Lars, 2004. "Identification and Estimation of Hedonic Models," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/6486, Paris Dauphine University.
    2. Bosworth, Derek & Rogers, Mark, 2001. "Market Value, R&D and Intellectual Property: An Empirical Analysis of Large Australian Firms," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 77(239), pages 323-37, December.
    3. Iain Cockburn & Zvi Griliches, 1987. "Industry Effects and Appropriability Measures in the Stock Markets Valuation of R&D and Patents," NBER Working Papers 2465, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Chan, Su Han & Martin, John D. & Kensinger, John W., 1990. "Corporate research and development expenditures and share value," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 255-276, August.
    5. Griliches, Zvi, 1981. "Market value, R&D, and patents," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 183-187.
    6. Brown, James N & Rosen, Harvey S, 1982. "On the Estimation of Structural Hedonic Price Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 765-68, May.
    7. Louis K. C. Chan, 2001. "The Stock Market Valuation of Research and Development Expenditures," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 56(6), pages 2431-2456, December.
    8. repec:fth:inseep:9730 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Zvi Griliches, 1958. "Research Costs and Social Returns: Hybrid Corn and Related Innovations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66, pages 419.
    10. Zvi Griliches & Jacques Mairesse, 1995. "Production Functions: The Search for Identification," NBER Working Papers 5067, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Zvi Griliches, 1980. "Returns to Research and Development Expenditures in the Private Sector," NBER Chapters, in: New Developments in Productivity Measurement, pages 419-462 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Zvi Griliches & Bronwyn H. Hall & Ariel Pakes, 1991. "R&D, Patents, and Market Value Revisited: Is There Evidence of A SecondTechnological Opportunity Related Factor?," NBER Working Papers 2624, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:
    1. Raquel Ortega-Argilés & Lesley Potters & Marco Vivarelli, 2009. "R&D and Productivity: Testing Sectoral Peculiarities Using Micro Data," JRC-IPTS Working Papers on Corporate R&D and Innovation 2009-3, Institute of Prospective Technological Studies, Joint Research Centre.
    2. Bettina Becker, 2013. "The Determinants of R&D Investment: A Survey of the Empirical Research," Discussion Paper Series 2013_09, Department of Economics, Loughborough University, revised Sep 2013.
    3. Mamatzakis, E, 2009. "The Contribution of the Publicly Funded R&D Capital to Productivity Growth and an application to the Greek food and beverages industry," MPRA Paper 19388, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Zhang, Rui & Sun, Kai & Delgado, Michael & Kumbhakar, Subal, 2011. "Productivity in China's high technology industry: Regional heterogeneity and R&D," MPRA Paper 32507, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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