A defining aspect of the digital age is data and its business use. Data have become an important input for firms (e.g., to train artificial intelligence algorithms), but data use is neither accounted for in macroeconomic statistics nor part of business contracts for goods and services provided to customers.
This paper puts data and data investments in a framework amenable to measurement and policy analysis aimed at sharpening our understanding of the modern economies. Data is conceptualized as an intangible asset: a storable, nonrival (yet excludable) factor input that is only partially captured in existing macroeconomic and financial statistics. We provide experimental estimates of data investment designed to encompass data and data intelligence for six major European countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom) and we found an average value of 5 to 6.5 percent of market sector gross value added in 2010-2018 (Corrado et al, 2022). We also develop a simulation exercise to test the potential growth contribution of data capital, and we find that even limited diffusion of data capital could raise labor productivity growth as much as ½ percentage point per year, but outcomes are highly dependent on factors influenced by policy settings.