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Capitalizing R&D Expenditures

  • Diewert, Erwin
  • Huang, Ning

The next international version of the System of National Accounts will recommend that R&D (Research and Development) expenditures be capitalized instead of being immediately expensed as in the present System of National Accounts 1993. An R&D project creates a new technology, which in principle does not depreciate like a reproducible asset. A new technology is however subject to obsolescence, which acts in a manner that is somewhat similar to depreciation. The paper looks at the net benefits of an R&D project in the context of a very simple intertemporal general equilibrium model and suggests that R&D expenditures be amortized using the matching principle that has been developed in the accounting literature to match the fixed costs of a project to a stream of future benefits. Of particular interest is the evaluation of the net benefits of a publicly funded project where the results are made freely available to the public.

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Paper provided by Vancouver School of Economics in its series Economics working papers with number diewert-08-01-18-09-24-04.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: 18 Jan 2008
Date of revision: 18 Jan 2008
Handle: RePEc:ubc:bricol:diewert-08-01-18-09-24-04
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.economics.ubc.ca/

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  1. Diewart, W Erwin & Morrison, Catherine J, 1986. "Adjusting Output and Productivity Indexes for Changes in the Terms of Trade," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 96(383), pages 659-79, September.
  2. Adam M. Copeland & Gabriel W. Medeiros & Carol A. Robbins, 2007. "Estimating Prices for R&D Investment in the 2007 R&D Satellite Account," BEA Papers 0083, Bureau of Economic Analysis.
  3. Samuelson, Paul A, 1974. "Complementarity-An Essay on the 40th Anniversary of the Hicks-Allen Revolution in Demand Theory," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 1255-89, December.
  4. W. Diewert & Alice Nakamura, 2003. "Index Number Concepts, Measures and Decompositions of Productivity Growth," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 19(2), pages 127-159, April.
  5. Bert Balk, 2003. "The Residual: On Monitoring and Benchmarking Firms, Industries, and Economies with Respect to Productivity," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 5-47, July.
  6. Romer, Paul, 1994. "New goods, old theory, and the welfare costs of trade restrictions," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 5-38, February.
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