The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd


  • Arnold C. Harberger
Reference work entry


The concept of depletion is that counterpart of depreciation which is normally applied in extractive industries. The need for a different concept may fairly be questioned; as in many facets of economics, the explanation is more historical than analytical. Traditionally, land has been regarded as a non-depreciable asset, yet mineral rights have most often (though by no means always) been viewed as attached to the land. The special term depletion thus applies to the special circumstances where land loses value (actually or potentially) through a process of extraction of some non-reproducible element in the soil or subsoil.

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arnold C. Harberger
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