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R&D and Other Intangible Assets in an Input-Output Framework: Experimental Estimates with U.S. Data


  • Carol A. Robbins
  • Mary L. Streitwieser
  • William A. Jolliff

    (Bureau of Economic Analysis)


The U.S., along with many other countries, plans to adjust official economic statistics in coming years to recognize R&D and several other intangibles as capital assets. We present here experimental estimates of the impact of capitalized intangibles on industry output and industry value added. We do this using the concepts of the 2008 System of National Accounts (SNA) for classifying intangible assets, along with the framework of the U.S. input-output (I-O) accounts. The intangibles we treat as assets are R&D expenditures, entertainment, literary, and artistic originals, and architectural and engineering design originals. R&D expenditures and entertainment, literary, and artistic originals are explicitly identified as produced intangible assets. We argue that some architectural and engineering design originals, while not explicitly indentified as such in the SNA, fit within the SNA definition of produced assets. Based on our experimental measures, new private intangible investment in R&D, entertainment, artistic, and literary originals, and engineering and architectural originals was 218 billion dollars in 2002. If these intangibles were treated as investment, the result would more than double the existing estimate of intangible capital compared with published measures of new private fixed investment in intangible assets in the U.S. economic accounts. While all sectors invested in these newly measured intangible assets, the distribution across sectors was heavilyskewed: R&D accounted for three quarters of this new investment, with manufacturing R&D accounting for one half of this new private intangible investment. Our experimental estimates indicate investment in entertainment, literary, and artistic originals accounted for 16 percent of new private intangible investment, with 85 percent of this occurring in the information sector. Investment in architectural and engineering designs was spread across all sectors, however, two sectors accounted for 85 percent of this investment – professional and managerial services (63 percent) and construction (22 percent).

Suggested Citation

  • Carol A. Robbins & Mary L. Streitwieser & William A. Jolliff, 2010. "R&D and Other Intangible Assets in an Input-Output Framework: Experimental Estimates with U.S. Data," BEA Working Papers 0065, Bureau of Economic Analysis.
  • Handle: RePEc:bea:wpaper:0065

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Carol A. Corrado & Charles R. Hulten & Daniel E. Sichel, 2006. "Intangible Capital and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 11948, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Baldwin, John R. & Gu, Wulong & Lafrance, Amelie & Macdonald, Ryan, 2009. "Investment in Intangible Assets in Canada: R&D, Innovation, Brand, and Mining, Oil and Gas Exploration Expenditures," The Canadian Productivity Review 2009026e, Statistics Canada, Economic Analysis Division.
    3. Mauro Giorgio Marrano & Jonathan Haskel & Gavin Wallis, 2009. "What Happened To The Knowledge Economy? Ict, Intangible Investment, And Britain'S Productivity Record Revisited," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 55(3), pages 686-716, September.
    4. Jalava, Jukka & Aulin-Ahmavaara, Pirkko & Alanen, Aku, 2007. "Intangible Capital in the Finnish Business Sector 1975-2005," Discussion Papers 1103, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
    5. Cecilia Iona Lasinio & Massimiliano Iommi & Stefano Manzocchi, 2011. "Intangible capital and Productivity Growth in European Countries," Working Papers LuissLab 1191, Dipartimento di Economia e Finanza, LUISS Guido Carli.
    6. John F. Tomer, 2008. "Intangible Capital," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 12605.
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    JEL classification:

    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook


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