Intangible Investment in Japan:
New Estimates and Contribution to Economic Growth

Kyoji Fukao
Tsutomu Miyagawa
Kentaro Mukai
Yukio Shinoda
Konomi Tonogi

December 2008


The purpose of this paper is to measure intangible assets, to construct the capital stock of intangible assets, and to examine the contribution of intangible capital to economic growth in Japan. We follow the approach of Corrado, Hulten, and Sichel (2005, 2006) to measure intangible investment using the 2008 version of the Japan Industrial Productivity (JIP) Database. We find that the ratio of intangible investment to GDP in Japan has risen during the past 20 years and now stands at 11.6%, which is lower than the ratio estimated for the United States in the early 2000s. The ratio of intangible to tangible investment in Japan is also lower than equivalent values estimated for the United States. In addition, we find that, in stark contrast with the United States, where intangible capital grew rapidly in the late 1990s, the growth rate of intangible capital in Japan declined from the late 1980s to the early 2000s. In order to examine the robustness of our results, we also conducted a sensitivity analysis and found that the slowdown of the contribution of intangible capital deepening to economic growth and the recovery in Multi-Factor Productivity (MFP) growth from the second half of the 1990s observed in our base case remain unchanged even if we take on-the-job training and Japanese data with respect to investment in firm-specific resources into account.

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