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Intangible Capital and Productivity Growth in Canada


  • Baldwin, John R.
  • Gu, Wulong
  • Macdonald, Ryan


Intangible capital consists of investments that do not take on the solid, physical characteristics of machinery and equipment or buildings. Nevertheless, such investments have some of the properties of other types of investments in that they yield long-lasting benefits as a result of expenditures that are made today. In the National Accounts, these expenditures need to be capitalized rather than expensed as intermediate materials for purposes of estimating gross domestic product (GDP). Recent papers have considered issues surrounding the measurement of intangibles. Baldwin et al. (2005) discussed issues surrounding research and development (R&D). They noted that R&D is only one of the components of innovation expenditures. Baldwin et al. (2009) extended the measurement of intangible investments beyond that of just R&D. At the heart of intangible investments, of course, are software and R&D. However, intangible investments also consist of purchased science services, own-account scientific services, exploration expenses in the resource sector, and advertising expenditures, because these create an intangible asset and yield long-term benefits. This paper extends the authors' previous work in three ways. First, it expands it into several new areas--what are referred to as economic competencies. These involve primarily investments in human capital--via management and training investments as well as management consulting services. This not only provides broader coverage; it also allows cross-country comparisons of Canada to the United States. Second, this paper moves from just measuring investment to also developing capital stock estimates. This requires assumptions about depreciation rates. In both instances, the paper adopts assumptions similar to those used elsewhere in developing estimates for the United States, in order to ensure comparability. Third, the paper incorporates the estimates of intangible capital into the growth-accounting framework so as to understand how it is related to productivity growth. A comparison of Canada and the United States in this regard is also provided.

Suggested Citation

  • Baldwin, John R. & Gu, Wulong & Macdonald, Ryan, 2012. "Intangible Capital and Productivity Growth in Canada," The Canadian Productivity Review 2012029e, Statistics Canada, Economic Analysis Division.
  • Handle: RePEc:stc:stcp6e:2012029e

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    Cited by:

    1. Tatiana Muntean, 2014. "Intangible Assets and their Contribution to Labour Productivity Growth in Ontario," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 27, pages 22-39, Fall.
    2. Alexander Murray, 2016. "Partial versus Total Factor Productivity: Assessing Resource Use in Natural Resource Industries in Canada," CSLS Research Reports 2016-20, Centre for the Study of Living Standards.
    3. repec:bla:revinw:v:63:y:2017:i::p:s49-s67 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Amani Elnasri & Kevin J. Fox, 2014. "The Contribution of Research and Innovation to Productivity and Economic Growth," Discussion Papers 2014-08, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.
    5. Samira Hasanzadeh & Hashmat Khan, 2016. "Sources of Canadian Economic Growth," Carleton Economic Papers 16-02, Carleton University, Department of Economics, revised 16 Oct 2017.
    6. Wulong Gu, 2012. "Estimating Capital Input for Measuring Business Sector Multifactor Productivity Growth in Canada: Response to Diewert and Yu," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 24, pages 49-62, Fall.
    7. Siedschlag, Iulia & Lawless, Martina & Di Ubaldo, Mattia, 2017. "Investment in knowledge-based capital and its contribution to productivity growth: a review of international and Irish evidence," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number BKMNEXT336.
    8. Hyunbae Chun & M. Ishaq Nadiri, 2016. "Intangible Investment and Changing Sources of Growth in Korea," The Japanese Economic Review, Japanese Economic Association, vol. 67(1), pages 50-76, March.
    9. M. Ishaq NADIRI & Banani NANDI, 2015. "Modern Communication Technology and its Economic Impact: A Survey of Research Findings," Communications & Strategies, IDATE, Com&Strat dept., vol. 1(100), pages 125-144, 4th quart.
    10. repec:kap:jproda:v:47:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11123-017-0503-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Kevin J. Fox & Thomas Niebel & Mary O'Mahony & Marianne Saam, 2017. "The Contribution of Intangible Assets to Sectoral Productivity Growth in the EU," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 63, pages 49-67, February.
    12. Saam, Marianne & Weinhardt, Laura & Trottner, Lukas, 2016. "Public ICT investment in reaction to the economic crisis: A case study on measuring IT-related intangibles in the public sector," ZEW Discussion Papers 16-081, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.

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    Economic accounts; Gross domestic product; Productivity accounts;

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