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Robert Merton Solow Edit Profile

economist , educator

Robert Merton Solow 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.

Background

Ethnicity: Robert Solow was born in Brooklyn, New York in a Jewish family.

SOLOW, Robert was born on August 23, 1924 in Brooklyn, New York, United States. Son of Milton and Hannah Solow.

Education

He was well educated in the neighborhood public schools of New York City and excelled academically early in life. Robert was good at school from the very beginning, but not very intellectual until his last year in high school. Then one of those teachers who make a difference taught him to read the great 19th century French and Russian novelists, and to take ideas seriously.

Upon returning to Harvard in 1945, he chose to go on with economics. Wassily Leontief became his teacher, guide and friend. Leontief was also responsible for his introduction to empirical work: as his research assistant Solow produced the first set of capital-coefficients for the input-output model.

Solow became interested in statistics and probabilistic models. He learned a lot from Frederick Mosteller, whose appointment was in the Department of Social Relations. Eventually Mosteller advised Solow to study more intensively in a place where that was possible. So, in 1949-50, he spent a fellowship year at Columbia University, in the lectures of Abraham Wald, Jacob Wolfowitz and T.W. Anderson, along with his fellow student and friend, Jack Kiefer. During that year Solow was also working on my Ph.D. thesis, an exploratory attempt to model changes in the size distribution of wage income using interacting Markoff processes for employment-unemployment and wage rates. The thesis was awarded the Wells Prize at Harvard, which offered publication in book form and $500 (in 1951 prices) upon completion.

Career

Upon returning to Harvard in 1945, he chose, almost casually, to go on with economics. Wassily Leontief became his teacher, guide and friend. Solow learned from him the spirit as well as the substance of modern economic theory. Leontief was also responsible for his introduction to empirical work: as his research assistant Solow produced the first set of capital-coefficients for the input-output model.

Solow became interested in statistics and probabilistic models. He learned a lot from Frederick Mosteller, whose appointment was in the Department of Social Relations. Eventually Mosteller advised him to study more intensively in a place where that was possible. So, in 1949-50, Solow spent a fellowship year at Columbia University, in the lectures of Abraham Wald, Jacob Wolfowitz and T.W. Anderson, along with his fellow student and friend, Jack Kiefer. During that year Solow was also working on his Ph.D. thesis, an exploratory attempt to model changes in the size distribution of wage income using interacting Markoff processes for employment-unemployment and wage rates. The thesis was awarded the Wells Prize at Harvard, which offered publication in book form and $500 (in 1951 prices) upon completion.

Just before going off to Columbia Solow was offered and accepted an Assistant Professorship in the Economics Department at M.I.T. He used to say he has never had or wanted any other job. M.I.T. hired him primarily to teach courses in statistics and econometrics. In the beginning Solow fully intended to make his career along those lines. He was given the office next to Paul Samuelson's. Thus began what is now almost 40 years of almost daily conversations about economics, politics, our children, cabbages and kings. That has been an immeasurably important part of his professional life.

Solow currently is an emeritus Institute Professor in the MIT economics department, and previously taught at Columbia University.

Achievements

  • In 1987, Robert Solow won the Nobel Prize for his analysis of economic growth.

  • Solow is Founder of the Cournot Foundation and Cournot Centre.

  • He is a trustee of the Economists for Peace and Security.

  • Several of his students have gone on to win the Nobel Memorial Prize including Peter Diamond, Joseph Stiglitz and George Akerlof.

Works

  • Quarterly Journal of Economics

    • "A Contribution to the Theory of Economic Growth"

    • "Technical Change and the Aggregate Production Function"

  • book

    • Linear Programming and Economic Analysis

    • The New Industrial State or Son of Affluence

    • "The Economics of Resources or the Resources of Economics"

    • "Lessons Learned from United States Welfare Reform"

    • "Lessons Learned from United States Welfare Reform"

    • "The last 50 years in growth theory and the next 10"

Connections

Married Barbara Lewis in 1945.

His teacher, guide and friend:
Wassily Leontief
Wassily Leontief - His teacher, guide and friend of Robert Solow

Friend and colleague:
Paul Samuelson
Paul Samuelson - Friend and colleague of Robert Solow

They both were Walter Heller's Councils of Economic Advisers:
James Tobin
James Tobin - They both were Walter Heller's Councils of Economic Advisers of Robert Solow

They both were Walter Heller's Councils of Economic Advisers:
Kermit Gordon

They both were Walter Heller's Councils of Economic Advisers:
Arthur M. Okun
Arthur M. Okun - They both were Walter Heller's Councils of Economic Advisers of Robert Solow

An American statistician and Solow's friend:
Jack Kiefer