Gates Common Room
third floor of Palmer Hall, 1025 N. Cascade Ave. (east of Tutt Library) (map)
Robert M. Solow, a professor emeritus of economics at the Massacchussetts Institute of Technology, was awarded the 1987 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his important contributions to theories of economic growth.
In the 1950s, Solow developed a mathematical model illustrating how various factors can contribute to sustained national economic growth. Contrary to traditional economic thinking, he showed that advances in the rate of technological progress do more to boost economic growth than do capital accumulation and labor increases.
In his 1957 article “Technical Change and the Aggregate Production Function,” Solow observed that about half of economic growth cannot be accounted for by increases in capital and labor. He attributed this unaccounted-for portion — now called the “Solow residual” — to technological innovation. From the 1960s on, Solow’s studies helped persuade governments to channel their funds into technological research and development to spur economic growth. A Keynesian, Solow was a witty critic of economists ranging from interventionists such as John Kenneth Galbraith to free marketers such as Milton Friedman. He was awarded the National Medal of Science in 1999.