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Why Do Computers Depreciate?

Author

Listed:
  • Michael J. Geske
  • Valerie A. Ramey
  • Matthew D. Shapiro

Abstract

The value of installed computers falls rapidly and therefore computers have a very high user cost. The paper provides a complete account of the non-financial user cost of personal computers -- decomposing it into replacement cost change, obsolescence, instantaneous depreciation, and age-related depreciation. The paper uses data on the resale price of computers and a hedonic price index for new computers to achieve this decomposition. Once obsolescence is taken into account, age-related depreciation -- which is often identified as deterioration -- is estimated to be negligible. While the majority of the loss in value of used computers comes from declines in replacement cost, this paper shows the second most important source of decline in value is obsolescence. Obsolescence is accelerated by the decline in replacement cost of computers. Cheaper computing power drives developments in software and networks that make older computers less productive even though their original functionality remains intact.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael J. Geske & Valerie A. Ramey & Matthew D. Shapiro, 2004. "Why Do Computers Depreciate?," NBER Working Papers 10831, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10831
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    Other versions of this item:

    • 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.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Jorgenson, Dale W, 1996. "Empirical Studies of Depreciation," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 34(1), pages 24-42, January.
    2. D. W. Jorgenson & Z. Griliches, 1967. "The Explanation of Productivity Change," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 34(3), pages 249-283.
    3. Valerie A. Ramey & Matthew D. Shapiro, 2001. "Displaced Capital: A Study of Aerospace Plant Closings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(5), pages 958-992, October.
    4. Charles R. Hulten, 1996. "Quality Change in Capital Goods and Its Impact on Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 5569, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Mark E. Doms & Wendy F. Dunn & Stephen D. Oliner & Daniel E. Sichel, 2004. "How Fast do Personal Computers Depreciate? Concepts and New Estimates," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 18, pages 37-80 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Ernst R. Berndt & Zvi Griliches, 1993. "Price Indexes for Microcomputers: An Exploratory Study," NBER Chapters,in: Price Measurements and Their Uses, pages 63-100 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Oliner, Stephen D, 1996. "New Evidence on the Retirement and Depreciation of Machine Tools," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 34(1), pages 57-77, January.
    8. Stephen D. Oliner, 1993. "Constant-Quality Price Change , Depreciation, and Retirement of Mainframe Computers," NBER Chapters,in: Price Measurements and Their Uses, pages 19-62 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. R. E. Hall, 1968. "Technical Change and Capital from the Point of View of the Dual," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 35(1), pages 35-46.
    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.).
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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. 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.
    3. Raouf Boucekkine & Fernando del Río & Blanca Martínez, 2009. "Technological progress, obsolescence, and depreciation," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 61(3), pages 440-466, July.
    4. Theo Eicher & Thomas Strobel, 2008. "Der deutsche Produktivitätsabschwung: Ursachenforschung auf Branchenebene," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 61(15), pages 33-40, August.
    5. Raouf Boucekkine & Blanca Martínez & Fernando del Río, 2005. "Technological Progress And Depreciation," Working Papers. Serie AD 2005-22, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
    6. 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.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data; Data Access
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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