Information Processing Equipment and Software in the National Accounts (PDF)

In the U.S. national income and product accounts (NIPA's), most of the types of goods in the investment category "information processing (IP) equipment and software" have experienced rapidly changing technology and are thus candidates for inclusion in the new economy. The NIPA price indexes for computers and peripheral equipment, computer software, and communication equipment all, at least in part, include quality adjustments based on hedonic studies. In addition, anecdotal evidence strongly indicates that instruments have also have undergone substantial quality improvements, although no hedonic quality adjustments are currently being made to their prices. Together, these goods make up more than nine-tenths of the category. There is also some evidence that there have been substantial quality improvements for the remaining two types of goods in the category, photocopy and related equipment and office and accounting equipment. In order to facilitate research leading to improved measurement of information technology, this paper discusses the relationship between private fixed investment in IP equipment and software and GDP, explains how the current- and constant-dollar estimates are prepared, and finally assess recent progress in measurement and plans for improvement.

Bruce T. Grimm, Brent R. Moulton, and David B. Wasshausen