Profile Major Works Resources

Robert M. Solow, 1924-

Photo of R.M. Solow

Robert Solow is one of the major figures of the Neo-Keynesian Synthesis macroeconomics. Together with Paul Samuelson, he formed the core of the M.I.T. economics department which has been widely viewed as the "mainstream" of the post-war period. Together, Solow and Samuelson have contributed to various landmark pieces of work: e.g. on von Neumann growth theory (1953), on capital theory (1956), on linear programming (1958) and on the Phillips Curve (1960).

Individually, Robert Solow is best known for his work on the Neoclassical growth model (1956, 1970). His use of an aggregate production function in that paper launched the Cambridge Capital Controversy with pitted Solow and Samuelson against Joan Robinson and the Cambridge Keynesians. His various papers on the issue of capital bear out the magnitude of the problem (1963, 1967).

In turn, Solow also got imbroiled with Kaldor on the issue of growth and technological progress (1957, 1960). He was also one of the co-inventors of the constant elasticity of substitution (CES) production function (1961).  He is also responsible for exploring and popularizing the "long-run multiplier" derived from a dynamic government budget constraint. (1973)

It was Solow's work on growth that earned him a Nobel Memorial prize in 1987  

Robert Merton Solow was born in Brooklyn, New York, and enrolled at Harvard in 1940 at the relatively young age of 16, interrupting his studies in 1942 to serve in the US army in WWII. He returned to Harvard in 1945, proceeding on to graduate school in economics there, coming under the tutelage of Wassily Leontief, writing a thesis on the empirics of household income distribution.



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Major Works of Robert Solow

  • "On the Structure of Linear Models", 1952, Econometrica.
  • "Balanced Growth under Constant Returns to Scale", with P.A. Samuelson, 1953, Econometrica.
  • "A Complete Capital Model Involving Heterogeneous Capital Goods", with P.A. Samuelson, 1956, QJE.
  • "A Contribution to the Theory of Economic Growth", 1956, QJE. [pdf]
  • "Technical Change and the Aggregate Production Function", 1957, REStat. [pdf]
  • Linear Programming and Economic Analysis, with R. Dorfman and P.A. Samuelson, 1958.
  • "Analytical Aspects of Anti-Inflation Policy", with P.A. Samuelson, 1960.
  • "Investment and Technical Progress", 1960, in Arrow, Karlin & Suppes, editors, Mathematical Models in Social Sciences.
  • "Capital Labor Substitution and Economic Efficiency" with K.J. Arrow, H. Chenery and B.Minhas, 1961, REStat.
  • "Substitution and Fixed Proportions in the Theory of Capital", 1962, RES.
  • Capital Theory and the Rate of Return, 1963.
  • "Capital, Labor, and Income in Manufacturing", 1964, in The Behavior of Income Shares [nber]
  • "Heterogeneous Capital and Smooth Production Functions: An experimental study", 1963, Econometrica.
  • "Neoclassical Growth with Fixed Factor Proportions", with J. Tobin, C.C. von Weizsacker and M. Yaari 1966, RES. [cwls, wp]
  • "Some Recent Developments in the Theory of Production", 1967, in M. Brown, ed, Theory and Empirical Analysis of Production [nber]
  • "The Interest Rate and Transition between Techniques", 1967, in Feinstein, editor, Socialism, Capitalism and Economic Growth.
  • "Output, Employment, and Wages in the Short Run" with J.E. Stiglitz, 1968, QJE [cwls]
  • "On the Rate of Return: Reply to Pasinetti", 1970, EJ
  • Growth Theory: An exposition, 1970.
  • "Does Fiscal Policy Matter?", with A.S. Blinder, 1973, Journal of Public Economics.
  • Analytical Foundations of Fiscal Policy", with  A.S. Blinder, 1974, in Blinder et al., The Economics of Public Finance
  • "The Economics of Resources or the Resources of Economics", 1974, AER.
  • "Intergenerational Equity and Exhaustible Resources", 1974, RES.
  • "Alternative Approaches to Macroeconomic Theory: A partial view", 1979, Canadian JE.
  • "On Theories of Unemployment", 1980, AER.
  • "What to Do (Macroeconomically) When OPEC Comes", 1980, in S. Fischer, ed., Rational Expectations and Economic Policy [nber]
  • "Mr Hicks and the Classics", 1984, Oxford EP.
  • "Reflections on Macroeconomic Modelling; Confessions of a DRI Addict", 1985, EEJ [pdf]
  • "Economic History and Economics", 1985, AER.
  • "On the Interenerational Allocation of Natural Resources", 1986, Sand JE.
  • "What Is a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This? Macroeconomics after Fifty Years", 1986, EEJ [pdf]
  • "An Economist's View of the Income Maintenance Experiments", 1986, Conference Proceedings of Boston Fed [pdf]
  • "Unemployment: Getting the question right", 1986, Economica.
  • "James Meade at Eighty", 1987, EJ.
  • "What do we know that Francis Amasa Walker didn't?", 1987, HOPE.
  • "We'd better watch out", 1987, New York Times Book Review (Jul 12) [pdf] ("Solow paradox")
  • "Growth Theory and After", 1988, AER [nobel]
  • "La théorie de la croissance et son évolution", 1988, Rev fra econ [pers]
  • "Black Monday in Retrospect and Prospect: A roundtable", with Martin Feldstein, Franco Modigliani and Allen Sinai, 1988, EEJ [pdf]
  • "Money, Inflation and Growth" with A. Orphanides, 1990, in Friedman and Hahn, editors, Handbook of Monetary Economics - intro
  • Made in America, 1989, with M. Dertouzos and R. Lester
  • "Sustainability: an economist's perspective", 1991 [pdf]
  • "An almost practical step towards sustainability", 1993, Res for Future [pdf]
  • "Perspectives on Growth Theory", 1994, JEP [aea]
  • Critical Essay on Modern Macroeconomic Theory, with F.H.Hahn, 1995.
  • "Is There a Core of Usable Macroeconomics We Should All Believe In?", 1997, AER
  • "One Little Piece of Irving Fisher", 1997, AER.
  • "What is Labor Market Flexibility: What is it good for?", 1997, Proceedings of the British Academy
  • "Judgemental Cuts in Consumer Price Indexation Are a Bad Idea," with K. Arrow and J. Tobin, 1997, FAS [fas]
  • "The Nature of Consumer Price Indices",  1997, FAS [fas]
  • Learning from "Learning by Doing": Lessons for Economic Growth, 1997
  • "An Economists' Manifesto on Unemployment in the European Union", with F. Modigliani, J.P. Fitoussi, B. Moro, D. Snower, A. Steinherr and P. Sylos Labini, 1998, BNLQR [psl]
  • Work and Welfare, 1998
  • Inflation, Unemployment, and Monetary Policy with John B. Taylor, 1998
  • Monopolistic Competition and Macroeconomic Theory, 1999
  • "On Golden Pond: Review of Petersen's Gray Dawn", 1999, NY Review of Books [online]
  • "Toward a Macroeconomics of the Medium Run", 2000, JEP [aea]
  • "The Neoclassical Theory of Growth and Distribution", 2000, BNLQR [psl]
  • "Neoclassical Growth Theory", 2000, in Taylor and Woodford, editors, Handbook of Macroeconomics - intro
  • "Welfare: The Cheapest Country", 2000, NY Review of Books [online]
  • "Economies of Truth: Review of Jacobs", 2000, New Republic
  • "International Productivity Comparisons Built from the Firm Level" with M.N. Baily, 2001, JEP [aea]
  • "After 'Technical Progress and the Aggregate Production Function'", 2001, in Hulten, Dean and Harper, editors, New Developments in Productivity Analysis [nber]
  • "A Native Informant Speaks", 2002, J of Econ Methodology.
  • "Reflections on Growth and Development", 2003, Annals of Econ and Finance [pdf]
  • "Modigliani e Keynes", 2005, Moneta e Credito [psl]
  • "Rethinking Fiscal Policy", 2005, Oxford REP.
  • "The Last Fifty Years of Growth Theory and the Next Ten", 2007, Oxford REP
  • "Does Growth Have a Future? Does Growth Theory Have a Future? Are These Questions Related?", 2009, HOPE
  • "Dumb and Dumber in Macroeconomics", 2003, Stiglits Festschrift [pdf]
  • "On Paul Samuelson", 2010, Challenge.
  • "Stories about Economics and Technology", 2010, EJHET
  • "Hayek, Friedman and the Illusions of Conservative Economics", 2012, New Republic [online]
  • "Why there is no Milton Friedman today", 2013, EJW [ejw]
  • "Our Debt, Ourselves", NY Times op-ed, 2013
  • "Thomas Piketty is Right", 2014, New Republic. [online]
  • "The Future of Work: Why wages aren't keeping up", 2015, PS magazine [online]




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Resources on Robert M. Solow

  • Robert Solow publications at NBER
  • Robert Solow papers at repec/ideas
  • Robert Solow articles at NY Rev of Books
  • Ford/MIT Nobel Laureate Lecture 2000 by Samuelson, Solow and Modigliani [mit]
  • "Interview with Solow", 2007, at MIT Infinite History [website video]
  • "Solow on the State of Economics", interview by Russ Roberts, at EconTalk, LibertyFund [audio]
  • 1987 Nobel Memorial Prize: press release, facts, autobiography, lecture
  • "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands: Review of Solow and Taylor" by R. Alcaly, 1999, NY Review of Books [online]
  • "Solow's Surprise: investment is not the key to growth" by W. Easterly, 2001, Elusive Quest for Growth, [pdf]
  • "Neoclassical Growth Theory and 20th Century Economics" by M. Boianovski and Kevin Hoover, 2009 [pdf]
  • "Solow in the Tropics" by John Toye, 2009, HOPE [doc]
  • Guide to Robert Solow archives at Duke
  • Solow vs. Mankiw, by Robert Lenzer, Forbes article, 2014
  • "Prospects for Growth: Interview" at McKinsey [online]
  • Solow and Krugman discussion on Inequality, at CUNY, 2015 [video]
  • Solow Page at Nobel Prize Internet Archive
  • Solow entry in Concise Encycl of Economics, LibertyFund
  • Solow entry at Britannica
  • Wikipedia


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