Robert Solow Biography
Sun Sign: Leo
Also Known As: Robert Merton Solow
Born in: Brooklyn, New York
Famous as: Economist
Spouse/Ex-: Barbara Lewis
father: Milton Henry Solow
mother: Hannah Gertrude Sarney
U.S. State: New Yorkers
awards: John Bates Clark Medal (1961)
Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (1987)
National Medal of Science (1999)
Presidential Medal of Freedom (2014)
Robert Merton Solow is an American economist who received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for the development of a mathematical model for economic growth. He based his model on the earlier Harrod-Domar model but incorporated a significant difference in his own model. This difference lay in the fact that Solow assumed that full employment could be achieved by adjusting the wages given to the workforce. His theory totally contradicted the earlier theory that the economy was facing a great crisis. He soon followed with another theory that labor and capital were not the only two factors required for economic growth as was believed by economists till then. He suggested that a third factor has to be considered if the rate growth is to be calculated in real terms. This factor is called the ‘Solow residual’ which can be attributed to the technical changes that are required for healthy economic growth. He also developed a new model which made new capital more important than old capital which is based on the technology prevalent at the time. With new capital more changes could be brought about in the technological field. His articles on economic growth brought about a huge change in the perspectives that economist had till then about the realities of economic growth.
- Robert M. Solow was born in Brooklyn, New York, USA on August 23, 1924 into a Jewish family.He was the eldest of the three children. He had two younger sisters.
- Both his parents were children of immigrants who had to start earning a living as soon as they passed out from their school. His father Milton Henry Solow was involved in an international business dealing in furs and his mother was Hannah Gertrude Sarney. He was the first generation of children to attend university.
- He did his initial schooling at public schools in New York City and excelled in his studies. He won a scholarship for studying at the Harvard College at the age of 16.
- Solow joined the Harvard College in 1940 where he studied sociology, anthropology and elementary economics initially.
- In 1942, at the age of 18, he left the university and joined the Army Signal Corps to fight in the Second World War and served briefly in North Africa, Sicily and Italy.
- After being discharged from the Armed Forces in 1945 when the war was over, Solow rejoined the Harvard University as research assistant under Wassily Leontief. He devised the first set of coefficients related to capital for using in the input-output model built by Leontief.
- He received his B.A. degree in economics in 1947 and an M.A. degree in 1949 from the Havard University.
- Due to renewed interest in statistics and models on probability, he spent a year from 1949 to 1950 at the Columbia University in studying statistics.
- During this period he kept working on his doctoral thesis and earned his PhD in economics from the Harvard University in 1949.
- In 1949 he was offered the post of Assistant Professor in the Economics Department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and joined the institute in 1950. Here he taught courses in econometrics and statistics.
- In 1950 he developed the mathematical model which shows how various factors can jointly contribute to create sustained economic growth for the country. Contrary to the normal belief, he illustrated that the progress of technology provides a bigger boost to the economy rather than an increase in only capital or labor.
- His interests turned gradually to macroeconomics and he worked with Samuelson on the ‘Von Neuman growth theory’ during 1953, the ‘theory of capital’ during 1956, ‘linear programming’ theory during 1958 and the ‘Phillips curve’ during 1960.
- He became a full professor at the M. I. T. in 1958 and a professor emeritus in 1995.
- He joined the ‘Council of Economic Advisers’ in the John F. Kennedy administration as a senior economist and worked with council from 1961 to 1962 and was a consultant for the council from 1962 to 1968.
- He was a member of President Johnson’s ‘Committee on Technology, Automation and Economic Progress’ from 1964 to 1965.
- He was a member in the President Nixon’s ‘Commission on Income Maintenance’ from 1968 to 1970.
- From 1975 to he was a director of the Boston Federal Reserve Bank and its chairman during the last year.
- He became the president of the ‘American Economic Association’ in 1979.
- He was the co-founder of a non-profit organization called ‘The Cournot Foundation’ involved in financing postdoctoral programs, creating co-disciplinary chairs and organizing sabbaticals for famous researchers.
- He became the Chairman of an Italian non-profit cultural organization named I.S.E.O. involved in organizing summer schools and international conferences.
- He also became a trustee of the organization called ‘Economics for Peace and Security’.
- Robert M. Solow’s first major work was an article titled ‘A contribution to the Theory of Economic Growth’ which was published in 1956.
- His second article ‘Technical Change and the Aggregate Production function’, written in collaboration with Paul Samuelson and Robert Dorfman, came out in 1958 while his third work ‘Capital Theory and the Rate of Return’ was published in 1963.
- ‘The New Industrial State of Son of Affluence’ was published in 1967.
- Robert M. Solow received the ‘John Bates Clark Award’ from the ‘American Economic Association’ in 1961 as the best economist under the age of forty.
- He received the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 1987.
- In 1999 he was awarded the ‘National Medal of Science’
- He was awarded an honorary D.Sc. degree by the ‘Tufft’s University’ in 2011.
- He was honored with the ‘2014 Presidential Medal of Freedom’.
- Robert M. Solow married Barbara Lewis in 1945 after coming back from the war. They have two sons and a daughter from the marriage.
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