Robert Merton Solow, GCIH (//; 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. He is currently Emeritus Institute Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he has been a professor since 1949. He was awarded the John Bates Clark Medal in 1961, the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1987, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2014. 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.
Solow in 2008
Robert Merton Solow
August 23, 1924
|Institution||Massachusetts Institute of Technology|
|Alma mater||Harvard University|
|Francis M. Bator|
Ronald W. Jones
Harvey M. Wagner
Arjun Kumar Sengupta
Robert J. Gordon
|Other notable students||Mario Draghi|
|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 Solow was born in Brooklyn, New York, into a Jewish family on August 23, 1924, the oldest of three children. He regarded his parents as being very intelligent people but were not able to go to college due to the necessity to work. He was well educated in the neighborhood public schools and excelled academically early in life. 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.
Due to the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the following year Solow left the university and joined the U.S. Army. Having been fluent in German, the Army put him in a task force whose primary purpose was to intercept, interpret, and send back German messages to base. He served briefly in North Africa and Sicily, and later served in Italy during World War II until he was discharged in August 1945. Shortly after returning, he proceeded to marry his girlfriend, Barbara Lewis, whom he was only dating for six months.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Solow also was the first to develop a growth model with different vintages of capital. 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.He first states that capital must be a finite entity because all of the resources on the earth are indeed limited. 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. 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.
To better communicate the meaning behind his work, Solow used a graphical design to illustrate his concepts. On the x-axis he puts capital per worker and for the y-axis he uses output per worker. The reason for graphing capital and output per worker is due to his assumption that the nation is at full employment. The first (top) curve represents the output produced at each given level of capital. The second (middle) curve shows the depreciating nature of capital which remains constantly positive. The third curve (bottom) conveys savings/investment per worker. As the old machinery wears down and breaks, new ones must be bought to replace the old. The point where the two lines meet is known as the steady state level, which means that the nation is producing just enough to be able to replace their old capital. Countries that are closer to the steady state level, on the left side, grow slower when compared to countries closer to the vertex of the graph. However, when countries are to the right of the steady state level, are not growing because all the returns they create needs to go to replacing and repairing their old capital.
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 assuming, as Solow did, that people save at a given constant rate, 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.
MIT Economics (1960–1979)
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).
Rise of the Growthmen (1979-2001)
The native land of the "growthmen" was naturally not for long reduced to MIT. The MIT growthmen soon set their sights to larger expanses of both policy and academic terrain. Growthmen far and wide coalesced to this nascent movement, led by Solow and Samuelson. Soon, most of the country, if not the world, had become "growthmen". In view of the growthmen school, growth was seen in four to five difference perspectives. First, as a central policy initiative; second, as a subject for continued research; third, as a culture and way of life; fourth, as a religious belief; and fifth, debatable, as ushering in a golden age of growthmen.
- 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.
- Solow, Robert M. (1960), "Investment and technical progress", in Arrow, Kenneth J.; Karlin, Samuel; Suppes, Patrick (eds.), 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. (eds.), 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 (eds.), 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.
- 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: 103–107.
- 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. hdl:10338.dmlcz/143862. 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: Papers and Proceedings. 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.
- Bator, Francis M. (1956). Capital, Growth and Welfare—Theories of Allocation (Ph.D.). Massachusetts Institute of Technology. hdl:1721.1/97306.
- Enthoven, Alain C. (1956). Studies in the theory of inflation (Ph.D.). Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved June 30, 2017.
- Jones, Ronald Winthrop (1956). Essays in the Theory of International Trade and the Balance of Payments (Ph.D.). Massachusetts Institute of Technology. hdl:1721.1/106042.
- Mohring, Herbert D. (1959). The life insurance industry: a study of price policy and its determinants (Ph.D.). Massachusetts Institute of Technology. hdl:1721.1/11790.
- Findlay, Ronald Edsel (1960). Essays on Some Theoretical Aspects of Economic Growth (Ph.D.). Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved June 30, 2017.
- Perry, George (1961). Aggregate wage determination and the problem of inflation (Ph.D.). Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved July 4, 2017.
- Wagner, Harvey M. (1962). Statistical Management of Inventory Systems (Ph.D.). Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved June 30, 2017.
- Intriligator, Michael D. (1963). Essays on productivity and savings (PhD thesis). MIT. OCLC 33811859.
- Sengupta, Arjun Kumar (1963). A study in the constant-elasticity-of-substitution production function (Ph.D.). Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved July 4, 2017.
- Peter A. Diamond - Autobiography - Nobelprize.org, PDF page 2
- Akerlof, George A. (1966). Wages and capital (PDF) (Ph.D.). Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved June 28, 2017.
- Sheshinski, Eytan (1966). Essays on the theory of production and technical progress (PDF) (Ph.D.). MIT. Retrieved May 26, 2018.
- Stiglitz, Joseph E. (1966). Studies in the Theory of Economic Growth and Income Distribution (PDF) (Ph.D.). MIT. p. 4. Retrieved June 29, 2017.
- Weitzman, Martin (1967). Toward a theory of iterative economic planning (Ph.D.). MIT. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
- Gordon, Robert J. (1967). Problems in the measurement of real investment in the U.S. private economy (Ph.D.). MIT. hdl:1721.1/105586.
- Hall, Robert E. (1967). Essays on the Theory of Wealth (Ph.D.). Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
- Nordhaus, William Dawbney. (1967). A Theory of Endogenous Technological Change (Ph.D.). Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved July 1, 2017.
- Dixit, Avinash K. (1968). Development Planning in a Dual Economy (Ph.D.). Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved July 1, 2017.
- Fair, Ray C. (1968). The Short Run Demand for Employment (Ph.D.). Massachusetts Institute of Technology. hdl:1721.1/80461.
- Blinder, Alan S. (1971). Towards an Economic Theory of Income Distribution (Ph.D.). Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved July 1, 2017.
- Siegel, Jeremy J. (1971). Stability of a Monetary Economy with Inflationary Expectations (PDF) (Ph.D.). Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
- 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.
- Shavell, Steven Mark (1973). Essays in Economic Theory (Ph.D.). Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
- Loury, Glenn Cartman (1976). Essays in the Theory of the Distribution of Income (Ph.D.). Massachusetts Institute of Technology. hdl:1721.1/27456.
- Hausman, Jerry (2013), "Hal White: Time at MIT and Early Life Days of Research", in Chen, Xiaohong; Swanson, Norman R. (eds.), Recent Advances and Future Directions in Causality, Prediction, and Specification Analysis, New York: Springer, pp. 209–218, ISBN 978-1-4614-1652-4.
- 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. hdl:1721.1/99791.
- Bean, Charles Richard (1982). Essays in unemployment and economic activity (Ph.D.). Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved June 30, 2017.
- "Robert M. Solow | American economist". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2017-06-08.
- "Prospects for growth: An interview with Robert Solow". McKinsey & Company. September 2014. Retrieved 2017-06-08.
- "MIT Economics Faculty". Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved 27 August 2017.
- "American Economic Association". www.aeaweb.org. Retrieved 2017-06-08.
- Solow, Robert M. "Robert M. Solow - Biographical". www.nobelprize.org. Retrieved 2017-06-08.
- Schulman, Kori (2014-11-10). "President Obama Announces the Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipients". whitehouse.gov. Retrieved 2017-06-08.
- Dieterle, David A (2017). Economics: The Definitive Encyclopedia from Theory to Practice. 4. Greenwood. p. 376. ISBN 978-0313397073.
- "MIT Libraries' catalog - Barton - Full Catalog - Full Record". library.mit.edu. Retrieved 2018-10-10.
- Business, Ivana Kottasová, CNN. "Nobel Prize in economics awarded to William Nordhaus and Paul Romer". CNN. Retrieved 2018-10-10.
- Martin, Caine. "Robert Solow". youtube. InfiniteHistoryProjectMIT. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
- "Robert M. Solow – Autobiography". Nobelprize.org. 1924-08-23. Retrieved 2010-03-16.
- Martin, Caine. "Robert Solow". Youtube. InfiniteHistoryProjectMIT. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
- "Robert M Solow - Middlesex Massachusetts - Army of the United States". wwii-army.mooseroots.com. Retrieved 2017-06-08.
- Martin, Caine. "Robert Solow". Youtube. InfiniteHistoryProjectMIT. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
- "RePEc Genealogy page for Robert M. Solow". Research Papers in Economics (RePEc). Retrieved 1 November 2014.
- "Top 5% Authors, as of September 2014: Strength of Students". Research Papers in Economics (RePEc). Retrieved 1 November 2014.
- admissionscase.harvard.edu (PDF) https://admissionscase.harvard.edu/files/adm-case/files/economists_amended_brief_dkt._527-1.pdf. Retrieved 2018-12-30. Missing or empty
- 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.
- Martin, Caine. "Robert Solow". Youtube. InfiniteHistoryProjectMIT. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
- Martin, Caine (February 1956). "A Contribution to the Theory of Economic Growth" (PDF). The Quarterly Journal of Economics. 70 (1): 65–94. doi:10.2307/1884513. hdl:10338.dmlcz/143862. JSTOR 1884513.
- 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.
- "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.
|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 Books
- 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
James M. Buchanan Jr.
| Laureate of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics