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Capital stocks, capital services, and depreciation: an integrated framework

  • Nicholas Oulton
  • Sylaja Srinivasan

Neo-classical theory provides an integrated framework by means of which we can measure capital stocks, capital services and depreciation. In this paper the theory is set out and reviewed. It is found that the theory is quite robust and can deal with assets like computers that are subject to rapid obsolescence. Using the framework, estimates are presented of aggregate wealth, aggregate capital services and aggregate depreciation for the United Kingdom between 1979 Q1 and 2002 Q2, and the results are tested for sensitivity to the assumptions. The principal source of uncertainty in estimating capital stocks and capital services is found to relate to the treatment and measurement of investment in computers and software. Applying US methods for these assets to UK data has a substantial effect on the growth rate of capital services and on the ratio of depreciation to GDP.

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Paper provided by Bank of England in its series Bank of England working papers with number 192.

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Date of creation: Jun 2003
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Handle: RePEc:boe:boeewp:192
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  1. Nicholas Oulton, 2001. "ICT and productivity growth in the United Kingdom," Bank of England working papers 140, Bank of England.
  2. Oulton, Nicholas, 1995. "Depreciation, Obsolescence and the Role of Capital in Growth Accounting," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 21-33, January.
  3. Stephen D. Oliner, 1993. "New evidence on the retirement and depreciation of machine tools," Working Paper Series / Economic Activity Section 147, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  4. Paul Schreyer, 2001. "The OECD Productivity Manual: A Guide to the Measurement of Industry-Level and Aggregate Productivity," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 2, pages 37-51, Spring.
  5. Hulten, Charles R. & Wykoff, Frank C., 1981. "The estimation of economic depreciation using vintage asset prices : An application of the Box-Cox power transformation," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 15(3), pages 367-396, April.
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  7. Dale W. Jorgenson & Kevin J. Stiroh, 2000. "Raising the Speed Limit: U.S. Economic Growth in the Information Age," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 31(1), pages 125-236.
  8. Karl Whelan, 2000. "Computers, obsolescence, and productivity," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-06, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  9. Gordon, Robert J., 1990. "The Measurement of Durable Goods Prices," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226304557.
  10. Stephen D. Oliner, 1990. "Constant-quality price change, depreciation, and retirement of mainframe computers," Working Paper Series / Economic Activity Section 110, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  11. W. Erwin Diewert, 1980. "Aggregation Problems in the Measurement of Capital," NBER Chapters, in: The Measurement of Capital, pages 433-538 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Feldstein, Martin S & Rothschild, Michael, 1974. "Towards an Economic Theory of Replacement Investment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 42(3), pages 393-423, May.
  13. Jens Larsen & Katharine Neiss & Fergal Shortall, 2002. "Factor utilisation and productivity estimates for the United Kingdom," Bank of England working papers 162, Bank of England.
  14. Nicholas Oulton, 2004. "Productivity Versus Welfare; Or GDP Versus Weitzman's NDP," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 50(3), pages 329-355, 09.
  15. Jorgenson, Dale W, 1996. "Empirical Studies of Depreciation," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 34(1), pages 24-42, January.
  16. Berndt, Ernst R. & Fuss, Melvyn A., 1986. "Productivity measurement with adjustments for variations in capacity utilization and other forms of temporary equilibrium," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1-2), pages 7-29.
  17. Hulten, Charles R & Wykoff, Frank C, 1996. "Issues in the Measurement of Economic Depreciation: Introductory Remarks," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 34(1), pages 10-23, January.
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  19. repec:sae:niesru:v:147:y::i:1:p:84-96 is not listed on IDEAS
  20. M. L. Weitzman, 1974. "On the Welfare Significance of National Product in Dynamic Economy," Working papers 125, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  21. Wadhwani, Sushil & Wall, Martin, 1986. "The UK Capital Stock--New Estimates of Premature Scrapping," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 2(3), pages 44-55, Autumn.
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