TOKUI Joji (Shinshu University) ／乾 友彦 (Nihon University) ／Young Gak KIM (Research Assistant, RIETI / Hitotsubashi University)
Concerns over the rise in the vintage of capital in the Japanese economy have focused attention on the technological progress embodied in capital. In this paper, we derive the theoretical relationship between the rate of technological progress embodied in capital, the obsolescence rate of capital, and the average vintage of capital, then we estimate these rates by using firm-level panel data from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) Basic Survey of Japanese Business Structure and Activities in the period between 1997 and 2002.
To measure the obsolescence rate of capital by estimating the production function, it is necessary to construct a capital stock series that takes only physical depreciation into account for each vintage capital held by each firm. To do that, we prepared industry-specific patterns of the physical depreciation ratio of capital goods, based on the pattern of the physical depreciation ratio of each type of capital goods by obtaining information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and the Japan Industrial Productivity Database (JIP) 2006’s investment matrices cross-classified by types of capital goods and industries. We applied these industry-specific patterns of the physical depreciation ratio of capital goods to the individual firms’ investment series, constructing a capital stock series in each firm.
We measured the obsolescence rate by estimating the production function, which is similar to the one employed in Sakellaris and Wilson (2004). We added several control variables to their equations. The estimated obsolescence rate of machinery and equipment is found to be between 8 and 22 percent per annum, which is very close to the estimated ratios in other previous research using the production function. This estimation result implies that the average rate of technological progress embodied in machinery and equipment is between 0.2 and 0.4 percent in Japan. The average vintage of capital in the manufacturing industry in the 1990s was estimated to increase by almost two years, because of weak investment during that decade, and it has the effect of lowering the rate of productivity growth in the industry by 0.4 to 0.8 percentage points.