Obsolescence

30 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2001

See all articles by Thorvaldur Gylfason

Thorvaldur Gylfason

University of Iceland - Faculty of Economics and Business Administration; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Gylfi Zoega

University of Iceland; University of London - Birkbeck College; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: June 2001

Abstract

Does it always pay to install high-quality capital? Or could it possibly be more profitable to make investments that do not last too long? In this Paper we ponder the optimal rate of depreciation of physical capital, first in the Solow model and then in a model of endogenous growth with learning-by-doing. Optimal durability and depreciation, including obsolescence, are attained when the marginal benefit of increasing durability - and thus reducing the need for future replacement investment - is equal to the marginal cost, which is the additional cost of investing due to the higher quality of capital. The optimality conditions are set out as golden rules for the quality, or durability, of capital. They entail that the higher the rate of population growth or technological progress, the larger the marginal cost of investing in durability and the lower the optimal level of durability; hence, the higher the optimal rate of depreciation. We then use a customer-market model to derive the privately optimal level of durability, and find that there is nothing in the model that ensures the socially optimal level of durability and depreciation.

Keywords: Capital, depreciation, economic growth, obsolescence

JEL Classification: E23

Suggested Citation

Gylfason, Thorvaldur and Zoega, Gylfi, Obsolescence (June 2001). CEPR Discussion Paper No. 2833. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=274176

Thorvaldur Gylfason (Contact Author)

University of Iceland - Faculty of Economics and Business Administration ( email )

IS-101 Reykjavik
Iceland
+354 525 4533/00 (Phone)
+354 552 6806 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.hi.is/~gylfason/inenglish.htm)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Gylfi Zoega

University of Iceland ( email )

IS-101 Reykjavik
Iceland

University of London - Birkbeck College ( email )

Malet Street
London, WC1E 7HX
United Kingdom

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

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