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How Fast Do Personal Computers Depreciate? Concepts and New Estimates

Author

Listed:
  • 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Mark E. Doms & Wendy E. Dunn & Stephen D. Oliner & Daniel E. Sichel, 2004. "How Fast Do Personal Computers Depreciate? Concepts and New Estimates," NBER Working Papers 10521, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10521
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jane G. Gravelle, 1994. "The Economic Effects of Taxing Capital Income," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262071584, January.
    2. Jorgenson, Dale W, 1996. "Empirical Studies of Depreciation," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 34(1), pages 24-42, January.
    3. Dale W. Jorgenson, 1995. "Productivity, Volume 1: Postwar US Economic Growth," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262100495, January.
    4. 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.
    5. Auerbach, Alan J., 1982. "Tax neutrality and the social discount rate : A suggested framework," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 355-372, April.
    6. George A. Akerlof, 1970. "The Market for "Lemons": Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    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. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Mark C. Doms, 2004. "The boom and bust in information technology investment," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, pages 19-34.
    6. Nicholas Bloom & Raffaella Sadun & John Van Reenen, 2012. "Americans Do IT Better: US Multinationals and the Productivity Miracle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(1), pages 167-201, February.
    7. 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.
    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. repec:eee:proeco:v:191:y:2017:i:c:p:51-65 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Andreas Hornstein, 2004. "(Un)balanced growth," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Fall, pages 25-45.
    11. W. Erwin Diewert, 2005. "Issues in the Measurement of Capital Services, Depreciation, Asset Price Changes, and Interest Rates," NBER Chapters,in: Measuring Capital in the New Economy, pages 479-556 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence

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