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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Diewert, W. Erwin & Huang, Ning, 2011. "Capitalizing R&D Expenditures," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 15(04), pages 537-564, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:macdyn:v:15:y:2011:i:04:p:537-564_00
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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 659-679, September.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Romer, Paul, 1994. "New goods, old theory, and the welfare costs of trade restrictions," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 5-38, February.
    5. 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.
    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 1255-1289, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Leonard I. Nakamura, 2010. "Intangible Assets And National Income Accounting," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 56(s1), pages 135-155, June.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C43 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Index Numbers and Aggregation
    • C61 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Optimization Techniques; Programming Models; Dynamic Analysis
    • C67 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Input-Output Models
    • C68 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Computable General Equilibrium Models
    • C82 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Macroeconomic Data; Data Access
    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • D42 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Monopoly
    • D45 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Rationing; Licensing
    • D57 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Input-Output Tables and Analysis
    • D58 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Computable and Other Applied General Equilibrium Models

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