Robert Merton Solow was born in Brooklyn, New York into a Jewish, immigrant family on August 23, 1924. Robert is the eldest among the three children of Milton Solow and Hannah Merton Solow. Because of dedication and hard work, Robert was awarded an educational scholarship in Harvard University in 1940. There, his studies began with elementary economics, anthropology and sociology. Surprisingly, however, shortly after his entry to the university Robert decided to join the United States army, and it was only in 1945 that he decided to continue his studies under the direction of Wassily Leontief. Years after, as a result of his momentous contributions to theories of economic growth Robert M. Solow was awarded in 1987 of the most esteemed Nobel Prize for Economics.
Road to Success
Robert, together with his cousins and sisters, was the first generation of Solows to attend a university. In the locality of public schools of New York City, Robert was well educated and was observed from the very young age as an above average student, although he only became exceptionally intellectual during his final year in high-school (Solow, 1987). In view of that, Robert received a scholarship to Harvard University and eventually enrolled there in 1940.
Like most children of the Depression, Robert was interested on the subject of the social order and its elements. Thus, his first studies consisted of elementary economics, anthropology with Clyde Kluckhohn, as well as sociology with Talcott Parsons (Solow, 1987). However, when Robert had turned 18, it seemed that there were more exciting and urgent matters than what he was doing, so by the end of 1942, he left Harvard University to join the United States Army. Robert served momentarily in Sicily and North Africa, and then in Italy from the beginning of the war until he was discharged in 1945.
Upon Robert’s return to Harvard in 1945, now married to the writer and reader Barbara Lewis, he decided almost casually to continue with economics (Solow, 1987). Providentially, Wassily Leontief became his professor, friend and mentor. As a result, Robert learned exceptional things, particularly the substance as well as the spirit of modern-day economic theory. Robert’s introduction to empirical work was likewise attributable to the mentoring of Wassily. As Wasily Leontief’s research assistant, Robert created the earliest set of capital-coefficients for the input-output model.
Robert Solow obtained his college degree in 1947, and subsequently his Masters degree in 1949. During the same year, Robert Solow began teaching part-time at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Being academically brilliant, Robert eventually obtained his doctorate degree from Harvard University in 1951. The following year, Robert began the first of his several consulting assignments for the RAND Corporation.
In 1958, Robert became a permanent professor of economics at MIT. He taught statistics and econometrics, but because his real interest was in macroeconomics he eventually commenced an investigation on different growth theory. He continued the research work for 4 decades and worked on a number of theories including Phillips Curve, Linear Programming, Capital Theory, Von Neumann Growth Theory, etc. (Economy Watch).
In addition to Robert’s research activities, he likewise held significant government positions in his life. From 1961 to 62, Robert served on the Council of Economic Advisers and from 1962 to 1968, he became the organization’s consultant (Encyclopædia Britannica, 2009). Robert has also been a member of the Commission on Income Maintenance of the President, as well as a trustee of the Economists for Peace and Security Organization. His untiring and rigorous commitment towards work has brought him numerous recognitions in the form of awards, particularly the 1987 Nobel Prize.
Contributions to Economics
Throughout his life Robert had worked on the growth theories, and in the 1950s he developed a mathematical model demonstrating how a range of factors can contribute to continued national economic growth. Contrary to the long-established economic view, Robert illustrated that the advances in the rate of technological progress accomplishes more in enhancing economic growth than what labor increases and capital accumulations could accomplish (Encyclopædia Britannica, 2009).
In 1957, Robert Solow released an article entitled “Technical Change and the Aggregate Production Function,” which declares that approximately half of economic growth cannot be justified by increases in labor and capital (Encyclopædia Britannica, 2009). Since the 1960s, the aforesaid study as well as other studies of Robert constantly facilitated in convincing the governments to channel their funds into technological development and research in order to stimulate economic growth.
Aside from being a researcher and writer, Robert Merton Solow is also a witty critic of diverse theories proposed by different economists, ranging from free marketers such as Milton Friedman to interventionists such as John Kenneth Galbraith.
Robert Merton Solow has made important contributions in numerous fields of the science of economics, starting with his studies and publications to his intelligent reviews of other economists. Robert’s contribution and his succeeding works, have established a foundation for contemporary economic theory of growth, highlighting the significance of knowledge as a major variable for economic development. In view of Robert’s contributions in the field, the Royal Swedish Academy of Science awarded him with the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1987. Without a doubt, the far-reaching and strong intellectual and academic leaning of Robert M. Solow makes him one of the unshakable pillars of contemporary economic science.
Economy Watch. (n.d.). Robert M. Solow. Retrieved June 22, 2009, from http://www.economywatch.com/economist/robert-m-solow.html
Encyclopædia Britannica. (2009). Robert M. Solow. Retrieved June 21, 2009, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/553649/Robert-M-Solow
Solow, R.M. (1987). Autobiography. The Nobel Foundation. Retrieved June 22, 2009, from http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/economics/laureates/1987/solow-autobio.html