Robert Merton Solow


Robert Merton Solow
(1924)


American economist who was awarded the 1987 Nobel Prize for Economics for his important contributions to the theory of economic growth.
Solow received his B.A. (1947), M.A. (1949), and Ph.D. (1951) degrees from Harvard University. He began teaching economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1949 and became a full professor there in 1958. He served on the Council of Economic Advisers in 1961-62 and was a consultant to that body from 1962 to 1968.

In the 1950s Solow developed a mathematical model that could show the relative contributions of various factors to producing sustained national economic growth. Contrary to traditional economic thinking, he showed that the rate of technological progress is actually more important than capital accumulation and increases in labour in achieving such growth. The greater efficiency and productivity that result from qualitative improvements such as new machines and improved human skills are thus more important than strictly quantitative investments that result in a greater number of machines and factories. From the 1960s on, Solow's studies were influential in persuading governments to channel their funds into technological research and development in order to spur economic growth.


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