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R&D Tax Policy During the Eighties: Success or Failure?

R&D Tax policy in the United States during the nineteen-eighties is evaluated. with particular emphasis placed on quantifying the impact of the R&D tax credit on the R&D investment of manufacturing firms. Using publicly available data on R&D spending at the firm level, I estimate an average price elasticity for R&D spending which is in the neighborhood of unity in the short run. Although the effective credit rate is small (less than five percent until 1990), this relatively strong price response means that the amount of additional R&D spending thus induced was greater than the cost in foregone tax revenue. The recent evolution of features of the U.S. corporate tax system which affect R&D is also reviewed and my results are compared with those of previous researchers. The conclusion is that R&D tax credit seems to have had the intended effect, although it took several years for firms to fully adjust. I also argue that although high correlation over time of R&D spending at the firm level makes it difficult to estimate long run effects precisely, the same high correlation makes it probable that these effects are large.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4240.

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Date of creation: Dec 1992
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Publication status: published as Tax Policy and the Economy, Edited by James Poterba Volume 7, pp. 1-35, (MIT Press, Cambridge), May 1993
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4240
Note: PE PR
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  1. Sven W. Arndt & Lawrence Bouton, 1987. "Competitiveness," Books, American Enterprise Institute, number 21601, 8.
  2. Bronwyn H. Hall & Zvi Griliches & Jerry A. Hausman, 1984. "Patents and R&D: Is There A Lag?," NBER Working Papers 1454, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Steven Fazzari & R. Glenn Hubbard & Bruce C. Petersen, 1987. "Financing Constraints and Corporate Investment," NBER Working Papers 2387, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Bernstein, Jeffrey I. & Nadiri, M. Ishaq, 1988. "Research and Development and Intraindustry Spillovers: An Empirical Application of Dynamic Duality," Working Papers 88-06, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  5. Alan J. Auerbach & James M. Poterba, 1986. "Tax Loss Carryforwards and Corporate Tax Incentives," NBER Working Papers 1863, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Hall, Bronwyn H., 1993. "The Value of Intangible Corporate Assets: An Empirical Study of the Components of Tobin's Q," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt44x548gq, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  7. James M. Poterba & Lawrence H. Summers, 1984. "The Economic Effects of Dividend Taxation," NBER Working Papers 1353, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Lach, Saul & Schankerman, Mark, 1989. "Dynamics of R&D and Investment in the Scientific Sector," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 880-904, August.
  9. Bronwyn H. Hall and Fumio Hayashi., 1989. "Research and Development as an Investment," Economics Working Papers 89-108, University of California at Berkeley.
  10. Ariel Pakes & Mark Schankerman, 1984. "The Rate of Obsolescence of Patents, Research Gestation Lags, and the Private Rate of Return to Research Resources," NBER Chapters, in: R&D, Patents, and Productivity, pages 73-88 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Alan J. Auerbach, 1982. "Taxes, Firm Financial Policy and the Cost of Capital: An Empirical Analysis," NBER Working Papers 0955, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Partha Dasgupta & Joseph Stiglitz, 1980. "Uncertainty, Industrial Structure, and the Speed of R&D," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 11(1), pages 1-28, Spring.
  13. Jeffrey I. Bernstein & M. Ishaq Nadiri, 1988. "Rates Of Return On Physical And R&D Capital And Structure Of The Production Process: Cross Section And Time Series Evidence," NBER Working Papers 2570, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Mansfield, Edwin, 1986. "The R&D Tax Credit and Other Technology Policy Issues," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(2), pages 190-94, May.
  15. Roberts, Russell D, 1987. "Financing Public Goods," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(2), pages 420-37, April.
  16. Altshuler, Rosanne, 1988. "A Dynamic Analysis of the Research and Experimentation Credit," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 41(4), pages 453-66, December.
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