Robert Solow and the Development of Growth Economics

Robert Solow and the Development of Growth Economics. 2009. Edited by Mauro Boianovsky and Kevin D. Hoover. Supplement to volume 41 of HOPE. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

"The Neoclassical Growth Model and Twentieth-Century Economics," by Mauro Boianovsky and Kevin D. Hoover (pp. 1–23). Conference papers address the intellectual currents that formed the background of Solow's growth model and the history of growth economics that it subsequently informed.

Part 1. Growth Economics in the First Person

"Does Growth Have a Future? Does Growth Theory Have a Future? Are These Questions Related?," by Robert M. Solow (pp. 27–34). The change from a goods-producing to a service-producing economy, along with the increasing stress on our natural resources, means that growth theory will likely look different in the future.

"Reflections," by Edwin Burmeister (pp. 35–43). Solow-type growth models have enabled economists to pose literally thousands of sharp questions, ensuring the continued relevance of those models.

Part 2. Origins of Growth Economics

"Some Swedish Stepping-Stones to Growth Economics," by Mauro Boianovsky (pp. 47–66). Several elements of the Swedish contributions to economic dynamics directly or indirectly influenced the formation of the field of growth economics.

"Solow's 1956 Contribution in the Context of the Harrod-Domar Model," by Harald Hagemann (pp. 67–87). Solow's neoclassical model came into existence as a reaction to the Harrod-Domar model and some of the deficiencies associated with it.

"A Nonlinear History of Growth and Cycle Theories," by Lionello F. Punzo (pp. 88–106). Modern macromodeling of growth phenomena grew out of the general equilibrium approach as much as from the attempt to construct a general theory explaining cycles and growth on the basis of a unique set of principles.

"Trevor Swan and the Neoclassical Growth Model," by Robert W. Dimand and Barbara J. Spencer (pp. 107–26). Swan independently developed the standard neoclassical growth model, one that included a more complete analysis of techincal progress than did Solow's model.

"Dynamizing Stability," by Marcel Boumans (pp. 127–46). Solow's 1957 article on techincal change emerged from a mathematical context that included Samuelson's Foundations of Economic Analysis and Leslie's use of population matrices.

Part 3. Spread and Consolidation

"More Cobwebs? Robert Solow, Uncertainty, and the Theory of Distribution," by William Darity Jr. (pp. 149–60). Only if cobwebs such as wage ridigity and uncertainty are brought to center stage can we construct an economic theory that is wholly relevant to the crisis-prone world in which we live.

"The Growing of Ramsey's Growth Model," by Pedro Garcia Duarte (pp. 161–81). Contrary to popular belief, Ramsey was in fact recognized in economics before 1950, after which generalizations of Ramsey's growth model produced a very different pattern of citations to his work.

"James Tobin and Growth Theory: Financial Factors and Long-Run Growth," by Robert W. Dimand and Steven N. Durlauf (pp. 182–99). Tobin remains underappreciated as a growth theorist because his efforts to integrate short- and long-run macroeconomic phenomena relied on very different assumptions than more popular approaches.

"Solow and Growth Accounting: A Perspective from Quantitative Economic History," by Nicholas Crafts (pp. 200–220). The use of growth accounting in economic history has revealed that the Industrial Revolution did not represent a great leap forward in capital accumulation and that the influence of major technological breakthroughs has been quite muted.

"Solow in the Tropics," by John Toye (pp. 221–40). For a generation after the original Solow model, growth theory and development economics connected only sporadically, differing as they did in their interest in transitions between different types of economies

"The Solow Model, Poverty Traps, and the Foreign Aid Debate," by Brian Snowdon (pp. 241–62). Today's research into the causes of economic growth and poverty traps, among others, has brought the Solow model into the heart of the contemporary development debate.

"Hotelling, Rawls, Solow: How Exhaustible Resources Came to Be Integrated into the Neoclassical Growth Model," by Guido Erreygers (pp. 263–81). The integration of exhaustible resources into the neoclassical growth model must be seen in light of the Hotelling rule, the debate on the "limits to growth," and interpretations of Rawls's theory of justice in an intergenerational setting.

Part 4. Endogenous Growth, the New Growth Economics

"Solovian and New Growth Theory from the Perspective of Allyn Young on Macroeconomic Increasing Returns," by Roger J. Sandilands (pp. 285–303). While modern growth theory focuses on the microeconomic foundations of neoclassical growth theory, Young's more classical approach stresses the macro foundations of microeconomics.

"Endogenous Growth: Valuable Advance, Substantive Misnomer," by William J. Baumol (pp. 304–14). If much of the economic growth process is endogenous, then macroeconomists must work in full partnership with microeconomists.

"The Rise and Fall of Cross-Country Growth Regressions," by Steven N. Durlauf (pp. 315–33). The rise of cross-country growth regressions was an important component of the sea change in economic research associated with the new growth economics, and here its "fall" concerns how those regressions have been interpreted in the context of growth theories.

"The Solow Residual as a Black Box: Attempts at Integrating Business Cycle and Growth Theories," by Tiago Mata and Francisco Louçã (pp. 334–55). Solow's "residual" was a resource given to multiple uses, at times rhetorical and symbolic, at times instrumental for theory development, at others a social artifact.