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How Fast Do Personal Computers Depreciate? Concepts and New Estimates

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  • Mark E. Doms
  • Wendy E. 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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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10521.

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Date of creation: May 2004
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Publication status: published as How Fast do Personal Computers Depreciate? Concepts and New Estimates , Mark E. Doms, Wendy F. Dunn, Stephen D. Oliner, Daniel E. Sichel. in Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 18 , Poterba. 2004
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10521

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  1. Alan J. Auerbach, 1982. "Tax Neutrality and the Social Discount Rate: A Suggested Framework," NBER Working Papers 0457, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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. Jason G. Cummins, 2005. "A New Approach to the Valuation of Intangible Capital," NBER Chapters, in: Measuring Capital in the New Economy, pages 47-72 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. 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. Hassler, John & Krusell, Per & Storesletten, Kjetil & Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 2008. "On the optimal timing of capital taxes," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 692-709, May.
  4. Andreas Hornstein, 2004. "(Un)balanced growth," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Fall, pages 25-45.
  5. Mirko Draca & Raffaella Sadun & John Van Reenen, 2006. "Productivity and ICT: A Review of the Evidence," CEP Discussion Papers dp0749, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  6. Albonico, Alice & Kalyvitis, Sarantis & Pappa, Evi, 2014. "Capital maintenance and depreciation over the business cycle," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 273-286.
  7. Nick Bloom & Raffaella Sadun & John Van Reenen, 2007. "Americans do I.T. better: US multinationals and the productivity miracle," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 4555, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  8. 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.
  9. Mark C. Doms, 2004. "The boom and bust in information technology investment," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, pages 19-34.

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