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New Estimates of Federal Government Tangible Capital and Net Investment

Michael J. Boskin, Marc S. Robinson and John Roberts

No 1774, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Abstract: Government capital formation raises a number of issues important to national economic well-being, yet the U.S., unlike most advanced countries, does not account for capital in its formal budget documents. We estimate depreciation of government capital using a methodology developed by Hulten and Wykoff which is based on used asset price data. We estimate a federal government net nonresidential capital stock of over $800 billion in 1984, more than 20% higher than estimated by the BEA. We also find much larger net federal investment since World War II than the BEA. The behavior of military and civilian structures and equipment is also examined.We analyze the potential importance of these results for measuring the net national savings rate, national wealth, the trend in government capital formation relative to private capital formation, and the relationship between net investment and deficits.

Date: 1985-12
Note: PE
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Published as Boskin, Michael J, et al, 1985. "New Estimates of the Value of Federal Mineral Rights and Land," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(5), pages 923-36, December.
Published as Boskin, Robinson, and Roberts, "New Estimates of Federal Government Tangible Capital and Net Investment," in Technology and Capital Formation, ed. by Dale W. Jorgenson and Ralph Landau, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1988.

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