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What does it take for an R&D tax incentive policy to be effective?

Author

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  • Mohnen, Pierre

    () (UNU-MERIT)

  • Lokshin, Boris

    () (UNU-MERIT)

Abstract

While in 1996, 12 OECD countries offered R&D tax incentives, in 2008 this number increased to 21. Most countries have opted for level-based instead of incremental R&D tax incentives. This paper takes a critical look at how the effectiveness of R&D tax incentives has been assessed in recent evaluations. Whether based on structural models estimating a price elasticity of R&D or on treatment evaluation methods, most studies estimate the cost effectiveness ratio or additionality. If the cost effectiveness ratio is greater than 1, or firms to more R&D than before, the policy is considered to be effective. A more proper net welfare evaluation of this policy should also include administration, compliance and transfer costs, the marginal burden of taxation, as well R&D externalities and the indirect effects on innovation and productivity. The net welfare gain is shown to be sensitive to a certain number of parameters that are not always estimated with great precision. In particular, the transfer cost or deadweight loss associated with level-based tax incentives is shown to depend on the size of the firm, or more precisely its ex-ante R&D level. We report on the success of a past policy changes in the Netherlands and simulate the effect of various parameter changes in the existing Dutch R&D tax incentive scheme. We show that introducing marginal changes in the schemes's parameters has little impact of increased R&D spending. The policy is more effective for small firms than for large firms. We end with a discussion of the pros and cons of level-based versus incremental R&D tax incentives.

Suggested Citation

  • Mohnen, Pierre & Lokshin, Boris, 2009. "What does it take for an R&D tax incentive policy to be effective?," MERIT Working Papers 014, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  • Handle: RePEc:unm:unumer:2009014
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Luiz Ricardo Cavalcante & Bruno César Araújo & Donald Pianto & Fernanda De Negri & Patrick Alves, 2011. "Impactos Dos Fundos Setoriais Nasempresas," Anais do XXXVIII Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 38th Brazilian Economics Meeting] 124, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pós-Graduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
    2. A. Minniti & F. Venturini, 2014. "R&D Policy and Schumpeterian Growth: Theory and Evidence," Working Papers wp945, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
    3. Benjamin Montmartin & Marcos Herrera & Nadine Massard, 2018. "The Impact of the French Policy Mix on Business R&D: How Geography Matters," GREDEG Working Papers 2018-09, Groupe de REcherche en Droit, Economie, Gestion (GREDEG CNRS), University of Nice Sophia Antipolis.
    4. Benjamin Montmartin & Marcos Herrera & Nadine Massard, 2017. "R&D Policy regimes in France: New Evidence from a spatio-temporal Analysis," GREDEG Working Papers 2017-22, Groupe de REcherche en Droit, Economie, Gestion (GREDEG CNRS), University of Nice Sophia Antipolis.
    5. Castellacci, Fulvio & Lie, Christine Mee, 2015. "Do the effects of R&D tax credits vary across industries? A meta-regression analysis," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(4), pages 819-832.
    6. Sérgio Kannebley Júnior & Bruno César Araújo & Alessandro Maffioli & Rodolfo Stucchi, 2013. "Productive Development Policies and Innovation Spillovers through Labor Force Mobility: The Case of the Brazilian Innovation Support System," Research Department Publications IDB-WP-459, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    7. Spyros Arvanitis, 2013. "Micro-econometric approaches to the evaluation of technology-oriented public programmes: a non-technical review of the state of the art," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Theory and Practice of Program Evaluation, chapter 3, pages 56-88 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    8. Wojciech Grabowski & Krzysztof Szczygielski & M. Teoman Pamukçu & Sinan Tandogan, 2013. "Does Government Support for Private Innovation Matter? Firm Level Evidence from Turkey and Poland," CASE Network E-briefs 3, CASE-Center for Social and Economic Research.
    9. Julien Pénin, 2013. "Devrait-on obliger les entreprises à investir en R&D ? Vers une approche des politiques d’innovation par la responsabilité des entreprises," Working Papers of BETA 2013-11, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
    10. Federico Revelli, 2013. "Tax incentives for cultural heritage conservation," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Economics of Cultural Heritage, chapter 6, pages i-i Edward Elgar Publishing.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    R&D tax credits; R&D; tax credits; policy evaluation; cost-benefit analysis;

    JEL classification:

    • O32 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D
    • O38 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Government Policy
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • H50 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - General

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