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The Importance of Measurement Error in the Cost of Capital

  • Austan Goolsbee

Conventional estimates of the impact of taxes on investment may be seriously biased by measurement error in the cost of capital. The existence and size of such error, however, has not been documented. Using panel data on different types of capital equipment, this paper provides direct evidence of measurement error in the tax component of the cost of capital, accounting for about 20 percent of the tax term's variance. Correcting for the error with IV estimation shows that taxes significantly affect both prices and investment and that conventional results may be off by as much as a factor of four.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7558.

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Date of creation: Feb 2000
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Publication status: published as Goolsbee, Austan. "The Importance Of Measurement Error In The Cost Of Capital," National Tax Journal, 2000, v53(2,Jun), 215-228.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7558
Note: PE
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  1. Austan Goolsbee, 1998. "Investment Tax Incentives, Prices, And The Supply Of Capital Goods," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(1), pages 121-148, February.
  2. Martin Feldstein, 1983. "Inflation, Tax Rules, and Investment: Some Econometric Evidence," NBER Chapters, in: Inflation, Tax Rules, and Capital Formation, pages 243-286 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Altshuler, Rosanne & Auerbach, Alan J, 1990. "The Significance of Tax Law Asymmetries: An Empirical Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(1), pages 61-86, February.
  4. Andrew B. Abel & Olivier J. Blanchard, 1983. "The Present Value of Profits and Cyclical Movements in Investment," NBER Working Papers 1122, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Zvi Griliches & Jerry A. Hausman, 1984. "Errors in Variables in Panel Data," NBER Technical Working Papers 0037, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Don Fullerton, 1983. "Which Effective Tax Rate?," NBER Working Papers 1123, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Simon Gilchrist & Charles P. Himmelberg, 1993. "Evidence on the role of cash flow for investment," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 93-7, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  8. Auerbach, Alan J & Hines, James R, Jr, 1988. "Investment Tax Incentives and Frequent Tax Reforms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(2), pages 211-16, May.
  9. Caballero, Ricardo J, 1994. "Small Sample Bias and Adjustment Costs," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(1), pages 52-58, February.
  10. Robert S. Chirinko & Steven M. Fazzari & Andrew P. Meyer, 1998. "What Do Micro Data Reveal About the User Cost Elasticity?: New Evidence on the Responsiveness of Business Capital Formation," Macroeconomics 9805011, EconWPA.
  11. Jane G. Gravelle, 1994. "The Economic Effects of Taxing Capital Income," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262071584, June.
  12. Martin Feldstein & Lawrence H. Summers, 1979. "Inflation and the Taxation of Capital Income in the Corporate Sector," NBER Working Papers 0312, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Alan J. Auerbach & Martin Feldstein, 1978. "Inflation and the Choice of Asset Life," NBER Working Papers 0253, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Lyon, Andrew B., 1990. "Investment Incentives under the Alternative Minimum Tax," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 43(4), pages 451-65, December.
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