New Estimates of Federal Government Tangible Capital and Net Investment

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

NBER Working Paper No. 1774
Issued in December 1985
NBER Program(s):Public Economics

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.

download in pdf format
   (489 K)

download in djvu format
   (340 K)

email paper

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w1774


  • 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.
  • 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.

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Turnovsky w2133 Monetary Growth, Inflation, and Economic Activity in a Dynamic Macro Model
Hubbard and Judd w1736 Social Security and Individual Welfare: Precautionary Saving, LiquidityConstraints, and the Payroll Tax
Jin, Luca, and Martin w21099 Is No News (Perceived as) Bad News? An Experimental Investigation of Information Disclosure
Alesina, Londregan, and Rosenthal w3611 A Model of the Political Economy of the United States
Gordon and MacKie-Mason w4227 Tax Distortions to the Choice of Organizational Form
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us