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The Importance of Measurement Error in the Cost of Capital

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  • Austan Goolsbee

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Austan Goolsbee, 2000. "The Importance of Measurement Error in the Cost of Capital," NBER Working Papers 7558, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7558
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    1. 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.
    2. Gilchrist, Simon & Himmelberg, Charles P., 1995. "Evidence on the role of cash flow for investment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 541-572, December.
    3. Austan Goolsbee, 1997. "Investment Tax Incentives, Prices, and the Supply of Capital Goods," NBER Working Papers 6192, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Jane G. Gravelle, 1994. "The Economic Effects of Taxing Capital Income," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262071584, January.
    5. 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 211-216, May.
    6. Martin Feldstein & Lawrence Summers, 1983. "Inflation and the Taxation of Capital Income in the Corporate Sector," NBER Chapters,in: Inflation, Tax Rules, and Capital Formation, pages 116-152 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. 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.
    8. Lyon, Andrew B., 1990. "Investment Incentives under the Alternative Minimum Tax," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 43(4), pages 451-65, December.
    9. Griliches, Zvi & Hausman, Jerry A., 1986. "Errors in variables in panel data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 93-118, February.
    10. Abel, Andrew B & Blanchard, Olivier J, 1986. "The Present Value of Profits and Cyclical Movements in Investment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(2), pages 249-273, March.
    11. Robert S. Chirinko & Steven M. Fazzari & Andrew P. Meyer, 1996. "What Do Micro Data Reveal About the User Cost Elasticity?: New Evidence on the Responsiveness of Business Capital Formation," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_175, Levy Economics Institute.
    12. Rosanne Altshuler & Alan J. Auerbach, 1990. "The Significance of Tax Law Asymmetries: An Empirical Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(1), pages 61-86.
    13. Don Fullerton, 1983. "Which Effective Tax Rate?," NBER Working Papers 1123, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Austan Goolsbee, 1998. "Investment Tax Incentives, Prices, and the Supply of Capital Goods," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(1), pages 121-148.
    15. Auerbach, Alan J, 1979. "Inflation and the Choice of Asset Life," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(3), pages 621-638, June.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Stéphane Guimbert, 2002. "Réformes de la fiscalité du capital en Europe," Revue Française d'Économie, Programme National Persée, vol. 16(4), pages 113-169.
    2. Martin Simmler, 2014. "Do multinational firms invest more? On the impact of internal debt financing on capital accumulation," Working Papers 1424, Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation.
    3. Fatica, Serena, 2018. "Business capital accumulation and the user cost: Is there a heterogeneity bias?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 15-34.
    4. Shaun K. Roache, 2006. "Domestic Investment and the Cost of Capital in the Caribbean," IMF Working Papers 06/152, International Monetary Fund.
    5. Yoonsoo Lee, 2005. "The importance of reallocations in cyclical productivity and returns to scale: evidence from plant-level data," Working Papers (Old Series) 0509, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    6. Goolsbee, Austan, 2004. "Taxes and the quality of capital," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(3-4), pages 519-543, March.
    7. Anderson, John E., 2012. "State Tax Rankings: What Do They and Don’t They Tell Us?," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 65(4), pages 985-1010, December.
    8. repec:eee:jmacro:v:53:y:2017:i:c:p:235-250 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Nadja Dwenger, 2014. "User Cost Elasticity of Capital Revisited," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 81(321), pages 161-186, January.
    10. Eric Zwick & James Mahon, 2017. "Tax Policy and Heterogeneous Investment Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(1), pages 217-248, January.
    11. Ramirez Verdugo, Arturo, 2005. "Tax Incentives and Business Investment: New Evidence from Mexico," MPRA Paper 2272, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 04 Oct 2006.
    12. Walch, Florian & Dwenger, Nadja, 2011. "Tax Losses and Firm Investment: Evidence from Tax Statistics," Annual Conference 2011 (Frankfurt, Main): The Order of the World Economy - Lessons from the Crisis 48699, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    13. Shaun K. Roache, 2006. "Domestic Investment and the Cost of Capital in the Caribbean," Applied Econometrics and International Development, Euro-American Association of Economic Development, vol. 6(3).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models

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