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Robert Solow

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Robert Solow

Solow in 2008

Born Robert Merton Solow

August 23, 1924 (age 94)

Brooklyn, New York

Nationality American

Institution Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Field Macroeconomics

School or Neo-Keynesian economics


Alma mater Harvard University

Doctoral Wassily Leontief

Doctoral Francis M. Bator[1]
students Alain Enthoven[2]
Ronald W. Jones[3]
Herbert Mohring[4]
Ronald Findlay[5]
George Perry[6]
Harvey M. Wagner[7]
Michael Intriligator[8]
Arjun Kumar Sengupta[9]
Peter Diamond[10]
George Akerlof[11]
Eytan Sheshinski [de][12]
Joseph Stiglitz[13]
Martin Weitzman[14]
Robert J. Gordon[15]
Robert Hall[16]
William Nordhaus[17]
Avinash Dixit[18]
Ray Fair[19]
Alan Blinder[20]
Vittorio Corbo
Robert Pindyck
Jeremy Siegel[21]
Katsuhito Iwai[22]
Meir Kohn [cz]
Steven Shavell [de][23]
Glenn Loury[24]
Halbert White[25]
Mario Baldassarri[26]
Arnold Kling
Charlie Bean[27]

Influences Paul Samuelson

Contributions Exogenous growth model

Awards John Bates Clark Medal (1961)

Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic
Sciences (1987)
National Medal of Science(1999)
Presidential Medal of Freedom(2014)

Information at IDEAS / RePEc

Robert Merton Solow, GCIH (/ˈsoʊloʊ/; born August 23, 1924), is an

American economist, particularly known for his work on the theory of economic
growth that culminated in the exogenous growth model named after him.[28][29] He is
currently Emeritus Institute Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, where he has been a professor since 1949.[30] He was awarded the John
Bates Clark Medal in 1961,[31] the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciencesin
1987,[32] and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2014.[33] Four of his PhD
students, George Akerlof, Joseph Stiglitz, Peter Diamond and William Nordhaus later
received Nobel Memorial Prizes in Economic Sciences in their own right. [34][35][36]


 1Biography
 2Contributions
 3MIT Economics (1960–1979)
 4Honours
 5Publications
o 5.1Books
o 5.2Book chapters
o 5.3Journal articles
 6See also
 7References
 8External links

Robert Solow was born in Brooklyn, New York, into a Jewish family on August 23, 1924,
the oldest of three children. He was well educated in the neighborhood public schools
and excelled academically early in life.[37] In September 1940, Solow went to Harvard
College with a scholarship at the age of 16. At Harvard, his first studies were
in sociology and anthropology as well as elementary economics.
By the end of 1942, Solow left the university and joined the U.S. Army. He served briefly
in North Africa and Sicily, and later served in Italy during World War II until he was
discharged in August 1945.[37][38]
He returned to Harvard in 1945, and studied under Wassily Leontief. As his research
assistant he produced the first set of capital-coefficients for the input–output model.
Then he became interested in statistics and probability models. From 1949–50, he
spent a fellowship year at Columbia University to study statistics more intensively.
During that year he was also working on his Ph.D. thesis, an exploratory attempt to
model changes in the size distribution of wage income using interacting Markov
processes for employment-unemployment and wage rates.[37]
In 1949, just before going off to Columbia he was offered and accepted an assistant
professorship in the Economics Department at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
At M.I.T. he taught courses in statistics and econometrics. Solow's interest gradually
changed to macroeconomics. For almost 40 years, Solow and Paul Samuelson worked
together on many landmark theories: von Neumann growth theory (1953), theory of
capital (1956), linear programming (1958) and the Phillips curve (1960).
Solow also held several government positions, including senior economist for
the Council of Economic Advisers (1961–62) and member of the President's
Commission on Income Maintenance (1968–70). His studies focused mainly in the
fields of employment and growth policies, and the theory of capital.
In 1961 he won the American Economic Association's John Bates Clark Award, given to
the best economist under age forty. In 1979 he served as president of that association.
In 1987, he won the Nobel Prize for his analysis of economic growth[37] and in 1999, he
received the National Medal of Science. In 2011, he received an honorary degree in
Doctor of Science from Tufts University.
Solow is the founder of the Cournot Foundation and the Cournot Centre. After the death
of his colleague Franco Modigliani, Solow accepted an appointment as new Chairman
of the I.S.E.O Institute, an Italian nonprofit cultural association which organizes
international conferences and summer schools. He is a trustee of the Economists for
Peace and Security.
Solow's past students include 2010 Nobel Prize winner Peter Diamond, as well
as Michael Rothschild, Halbert White, Charlie Bean, Michael Woodford, and Harvey
Wagner. He is ranked 23rd among economists on RePEc in terms of the strength of
economists who have studied under him.[39][40]
Solow was one of the signees of a 2018 amici curiae brief that expressed support for
Harvard University in the Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard lawsuit. Other
signees of the brief include Alan B. Krueger, George A. Akerlof, Janet Yellen, Cecilia
Rouse, as well as numerous others.[41]

Solow's model of economic growth, often known as the Solow-Swan neo-classical
growth model as the model was independently discovered by Trevor W. Swan and
published in "The Economic Record" in 1956, allows the determinants of economic
growth to be separated into increases in inputs (labour and capital) and technical
progress. The reason these models are called "exogenous" growth models is the saving
rate is taken to be exogenously given. Subsequent work derives savings behavior from
an inter-temporal utility-maximizing framework. Using his model, Solow (1957)
calculated that about four-fifths of the growth in US output per worker was attributable to
technical progress.

Bill Clinton awarding Solow the National Medal of Science in 1999

Solow also was the first to develop a growth model with different vintages of
capital.[42] The idea behind Solow's vintage capital growth model is that new capital is
more valuable than old (vintage) capital because new capital is produced through
known technology. Within the confines of Solow's model, this known technology is
assumed to be constantly improving. Consequently, the products of this technology (the
new capital) are expected to be more productive as well as more valuable. [42] The idea
lay dormant for some time perhaps because Dale W. Jorgenson (1966) argued that it
was observationally equivalent with disembodied technological progress, as advanced
earlier in Solow (1957). It was successfully pushed forward in subsequent research by
Jeremy Greenwood, Zvi Hercowitz and Per Krusell (1997), who argued that the secular
decline in capital goods prices could be used to measure embodied technological
progress. They labeled the notion investment-specific technological progress. Solow
(2001) approved. Both Paul Romer and Robert Lucas, Jr. subsequently developed
alternatives to Solow's neo-classical growth model.[42]
Since Solow's initial work in the 1950s, many more sophisticated models of economic
growth have been proposed, leading to varying conclusions about the causes of
economic growth. For example, rather than assume people save at a given constant
rate that Solow did, subsequent work applied a consumer-optimization framework to
derive savings behavior endogenously, allowing saving rates to vary at different points
in time, depending on income flows, for example. In the 1980s efforts have focused on
the role of technological progress in the economy, leading to the development
of endogenous growth theory (or new growth theory). Today, economists use Solow's
sources-of-growth accounting to estimate the separate effects on economic growth
of technological change, capital, and labor.[42]
Solow currently is an emeritus Institute Professor in the MIT economics department,
and previously taught at Columbia University.

MIT Economics (1960–1979)[edit]

In the early 1960s the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was the native land
of the "growthmen." Its leading light, Paul Samuelson, had published a pathbreaking
undergraduate textbook, Economics: An Introductory Analysis. In the sixth edition
of Economics, Samuelson (1964) added a "new chapter on the theory of growth."
Samuelson drew on the work on growth theory of his younger colleague Robert Solow
(1956)—an indication that growthmanship was taking an analytical turn. The MIT
economists were thus growthmen in two senses: in seeing growth as an absolutely
central policy imperative and in seeing the theory of growth as a focus for economic
research. What the MIT growthmen added was a distinctive style of analysis that made
it easier to address the dominant policy concerns in tractable formal models. Solow's
(1956) model was the perfect exemplar of the MIT style. It provided the central
framework for the subsequent developments in growth theory and secured MIT as the
center of the universe in the golden age of growth theory in the 1960s (Boianovsky and
Hoover 199–200).[43]

 Grand-Cross of the Order of Prince
Henry, Portugal (27 September 2006)[44]

 Dorfman, Robert; Samuelson, Paul; Solow, Robert M.
(1958). Linear programming and economic analysis. New
York: McGraw-Hill.
 Solow, Robert M. (1970-10-15). Growth Theory - An
Exposition (1970, second edition 2006). Oxford University
Press. ISBN 978-0195012958.
 Solow, Robert M. (1990). The Labor Market as a Social
Institution. Blackwell. ISBN 978-1557860866.
Book chapters[edit]
 Solow, Robert M. (1960), "Investment and technical
progress", in Arrow, Kenneth J.; Karlin, Samuel; Suppes,
Patrick, Mathematical models in the social sciences, 1959:
Proceedings of the first Stanford symposium, Stanford
mathematical studies in the social sciences, IV, Stanford,
California: Stanford University Press, pp. 89–
104, ISBN 9780804700214.
 Solow, Robert M. (2001), "After technical progress and the
aggregate production function", in Hulten, Charles R.;
Dean, Edwin R.; Harper, Michael J., New developments in
productivity analysis, Chicago, Illinois: University of
Chicago Press, pp. 173–78, ISBN 9780226360645.
 Solow, Robert M. (2009), "Imposed environmental
standards and international trade", in Kanbur, Ravi; Basu,
Kaushik, Arguments for a better world: essays in honor of
Amartya Sen | Volume II: Society, institutions and
development, Oxford New York: Oxford University Press,
pp. 411–24, ISBN 9780199239979.
Journal articles[edit]
 Robert Merton Solow (Jan 1952). "On the Structure of
Linear Models". Econometrica. 20 (1): 29–
46. doi:10.2307/1907805. JSTOR 1907805.
 Solow, Robert M. (1955). "The Production Function and the
Theory of Capital". The Review of Economic Studies: 103–
 Solow, Robert M. (February 1956). "A contribution to the
theory of economic growth". Quarterly Journal of
Economics. 70 (1): 65–
94. doi:10.2307/1884513. JSTOR 1884513. Pdf.
 Solow, Robert M. (1957). "Technical change and the
aggregate production function". Review of Economics and
Statistics. 39 (3): 312–
20. doi:10.2307/1926047. JSTOR 1926047. Pdf.
 Solow, Robert M. (May 1974). "The economics of
resources or the resources of economics". The American
Economic Review, Special Issue: Papers and Proceedings
of the Eighty-sixth Annual Meeting of the American
Economic Association. 64 (2): 1–14. JSTOR 1816009.
 Solow, Robert M. (September 1997). "Georgescu-Roegen
versus Solow/Stiglitz". Ecological Economics. 22 (3): 267–
68. doi:10.1016/S0921-8009(97)00081-5.
See also: Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen and Joseph

 Solow, Robert M. (November 2003). "Lessons learned

from U.S. welfare reform". Prisme. 2. Archived from the
original on 2015-05-16.
 Solow, Robert M. (Spring 2007). "The last 50 years in
growth theory and the next 10". Oxford Review of
Economic Policy. 23 (1): 3–
14. doi:10.1093/oxrep/grm004.

See also[edit]

Robert Solow: Are we becoming an oligarchy? (2014)

 List of economists
 List of Jewish Nobel laureates
 Backstop resources
 Basic income
 Growth accounting
 Solow Growth Model
 Solow residual
 Guaranteed minimum income

1. ^ Bator, Francis M. (1956). Capital, Growth and Welfare—
Theories of Allocation(Ph.D.). Massachusetts Institute of
Technology. Retrieved June 29, 2017.
2. ^ Enthoven, Alain C. (1956). Studies in the theory of
inflation (Ph.D.). Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Retrieved June 30, 2017.
3. ^ Jones, Ronald Winthrop (1956). Essays in the Theory of
International Trade and the Balance of Payments (Ph.D.).
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved June
30, 2017.
4. ^ Mohring, Herbert D. (1959). The life insurance industry: a
study of price policy and its determinants (Ph.D.).
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved May
26, 2018.
5. ^ Findlay, Ronald Edsel (1960). Essays on Some
Theoretical Aspects of Economic Growth (Ph.D.).
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved June
30, 2017.
6. ^ Perry, George (1961). Aggregate wage determination and
the problem of inflation (Ph.D.). Massachusetts Institute of
Technology. Retrieved July 4, 2017.
7. ^ Wagner, Harvey M. (1962). Statistical Management of
Inventory Systems(Ph.D.). Massachusetts Institute of
Technology. Retrieved June 30, 2017.
8. ^ Intriligator, Michael D. (1963). Essays on productivity and
savings (PhD thesis). MIT. OCLC 33811859.
9. ^ Sengupta, Arjun Kumar (1963). A study in the constant-
elasticity-of-substitution production function (Ph.D.).
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved July
4, 2017.
10. ^ Peter A. Diamond - Autobiography - Nobelprize.org, PDF
page 2
11. ^ Akerlof, George A. (1966). Wages and
capital (PDF) (Ph.D.). Massachusetts Institute of
Technology. Retrieved June 28, 2017.
12. ^ Sheshinski, Eytan (1966). Essays on the theory of
production and technical progress (PDF) (Ph.D.). MIT.
Retrieved May 26, 2018.
13. ^ Stiglitz, Joseph E. (1966). Studies in the Theory of
Economic Growth and Income
Distribution (PDF) (Ph.D.). MIT. p. 4. Retrieved June
29, 2017.
14. ^ Weitzman, Martin (1967). Toward a theory of iterative
economic planning(Ph.D.). MIT. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
15. ^ Gordon, Robert J. (1967). Problems in the measurement
of real investment in the U.S. private economy (Ph.D.). MIT.
Retrieved 12 December 2016.
16. ^ Hall, Robert E. (1967). Essays on the Theory of
Wealth (Ph.D.). Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Retrieved July 5, 2017.
17. ^ Nordhaus, William Dawbney. (1967). A Theory of
Endogenous Technological Change (Ph.D.).
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved July
1, 2017.
18. ^ Dixit, Avinash K. (1968). Development Planning in a Dual
Economy (Ph.D.). Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Retrieved July 1, 2017.
19. ^ Fair, Ray C. (1968). The Short Run Demand for
Employment (Ph.D.). Massachusetts Institute of
Technology. Retrieved July 1, 2017.
20. ^ Blinder, Alan S. (1971). Towards an Economic Theory of
Income Distribution(Ph.D.). Massachusetts Institute of
Technology. Retrieved July 1, 2017.
21. ^ Siegel, Jeremy J. (1971). Stability of a Monetary
Economy with Inflationary Expectations (PDF) (Ph.D.).
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved July
5, 2017.
22. ^ Iwai, Katsuhito (1972). Essays on Dynamic Economic
Theory - Fisherian Theory of Optimal Capital Accumulation
and Keynesian Short-run Disequilibrium Dynamics(Ph.D.).
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved July
5, 2017.
23. ^ Shavell, Steven Mark (1973). Essays in Economic
Theory (Ph.D.). Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Retrieved July 5, 2017.
24. ^ Loury, Glenn Cartman (1976). Essays in the Theory of
the Distribution of Income(Ph.D.). Massachusetts Institute
of Technology. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
25. ^ Hausman, Jerry (2013), "Hal White: Time at MIT and
Early Life Days of Research", in Chen, Xiaohong; Swanson,
Norman R., Recent Advances and Future Directions in
Causality, Prediction, and Specification Analysis, New
York: Springer, pp. 209–218, ISBN 978-1-4614-1652-4.
26. ^ Baldassarri, Mario (1978). Government investment,
inflation and growth in a mixed economy : theoretical
aspects and empirical evidence of the experience of Italian
government corporation investments (Ph.D.).
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved June
30, 2017.
27. ^ Bean, Charles Richard (1982). Essays in unemployment
and economic activity(Ph.D.). Massachusetts Institute of
Technology. Retrieved June 30, 2017.
28. ^ "Robert M. Solow | American economist". Encyclopedia
Britannica. Retrieved 2017-06-08.
29. ^ "Prospects for growth: An interview with Robert
Solow". McKinsey & Company. September 2014.
Retrieved 2017-06-08.
30. ^ "MIT Economics Faculty". Massachusetts Institute of
Technology. Retrieved 27 August 2017.
31. ^ "American Economic Association". www.aeaweb.org.
Retrieved 2017-06-08.
32. ^ Solow, Robert M. "Robert M. Solow -
Biographical". www.nobelprize.org. Retrieved 2017-06-08.
33. ^ Schulman, Kori (2014-11-10). "President Obama
Announces the Presidential Medal of Freedom
Recipients". whitehouse.gov. Retrieved 2017-06-08.
34. ^ Dieterle, David A (2017). Economics: The Definitive
Encyclopedia from Theory to Practice. 4. Greenwood.
p. 376. ISBN 978-0313397073.
35. ^ "MIT Libraries' catalog - Barton - Full Catalog - Full
Record". library.mit.edu. Retrieved 2018-10-10.
36. ^ Business, Ivana Kottasová, CNN. "Nobel Prize in
economics awarded to William Nordhaus and Paul
Romer". CNN. Retrieved 2018-10-10.
37. ^ Jump up to:a b c d "Robert M. Solow – Autobiography".
Nobelprize.org. 1924-08-23. Retrieved 2010-03-16.
38. ^ "Robert M Solow - Middlesex Massachusetts - Army of
the United States". wwii-army.mooseroots.com.
Retrieved 2017-06-08.
39. ^ "RePEc Genealogy page for Robert M. Solow". Research
Papers in Economics (RePEc). Retrieved 1
November 2014.
40. ^ "Top 5% Authors, as of September 2014: Strength of
Students". Research Papers in Economics (RePEc).
Retrieved 1 November 2014.
41. ^ admissionscase.harvard.edu (PDF) https://admissionscas
Retrieved 2018-12-30.Missing or empty |title= (help)
42. ^ Jump up to:a b c d Haines, Joel D.; Sharif, Nawaz M.
(2006). "A framework for managing the sophistication of the
components of technology for global
competition". Competitiveness Review. 16 (2): 106–
21. doi:10.1108/cr.2006.16.2.106.
43. ^ Boianovsky, Mauro; Hoover, Kevin D. (2014). "In The
Kingdom Of Solovia: The Rise Of Growth Economics At
MIT, 1956–70". History of Political Economy. 46: 198–
228. doi:10.1215/00182702-2716172. hdl:10419/149695.
44. ^ "Cidadãos Nacionais Agraciados com Ordens
Portuguesas". Página Oficial das Ordens Honoríficas
Portuguesas. Retrieved 31 July 2017.

 Greenwood, Jeremy; Krusell, Per; Hercowitz, Zvi

(1997). "Long-run Implications of Investment-Specific
Technological Progress". American Economic
Review. 87: 343–362.
 Greenwood, Jeremy; Krusell, Per (2007). "Growth
Accounting with Investment-Specific Technological
Progress: A Discussion of Two Approaches". Journal of
Monetary Economics. 54 (4): 1300–
1310. doi:10.1016/j.jmoneco.2006.02.008.
 Jorgenson, Dale W. (1966). "The Embodiment
Hypothesis". Journal of Political Economy. 74: 1–
17. doi:10.1086/259105.

External links[edit]
Wikiquote has quotations
related to: Robert Solow

 Nobel autobiography
 Video Interview with Solow from NobelPrize.org
 Articles written by Solow for the New York Review of
 Robert M. Solow – Prize Lecture
 Toye, John (2009). "Solow in the Tropics". History of
Political Economy. 41 (1): 221–
40. doi:10.1215/00182702-2009-025.
 Robert M. Solow Papers, 1951–2011 and undated.
Rubenstein Library, Duke University.
 Robert Merton Solow (1924– ). The Concise
Encyclopedia of Economics. Library of Economics and
Liberty (2nd ed.). Liberty Fund. 2008.
 Appearances on C-SPAN
 Robert M. Solow at MIT Infinite History
 Biography of Robert M. Solow from the Institute for
Operations Research and the Management Sciences


Laureate of the Nobel Memorial

Preceded by Succeeded by
Prize in Economics
James M. Buchanan Jr. Maurice Allais




Laureates of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences


United States National Medal of Science laureates


John Bates Clark Medal recipients

Presidents of the Econometric Society


Presidents of the American Economic Association


Presidents of the International Economic Association

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dCat Identities (via VIAF): 108671555

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