Solow's Harrod: Transforming macroeconomic dynamics into a model of long-run growth

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Abstract: Modern growth theory derives mostly from Solow's “A Contribution to the Theory of Economic Growth” (1956). Solow's own interpretation locates its origins in his view that Harrod's growth model implied a tendency toward progressive collapse of the economy. He formulates his view in terms of Harrod's invoking a fixed-coefficients production function. We challenge Solow's reading of Harrod's “Essay in Dynamic Theory,” arguing that Harrod's object in providing a “dynamic” theory had little to do with the problem of long-run growth as Solow understood it, but instead addressed medium-run fluctuations, the “inherent instability” of economies. Solow's interpretation of Harrod was grounded in a particular culture of understanding embedded in the practice of formal modelling that emerged in economics in the post-Second World War period. Solow's interpretation, which ultimately dominated the profession's view of Harrod, is a case study in the difficulties in communicating across distinct interpretive communities and of the potential for losing content and insights in the process. Harrod's objects – particularly, of trying to account for a tendency of the economy toward chronic recessions – were lost to the mainstream literature.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Halsmayer, V; Hoover, KD

Published Date

  • July 3, 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 23 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 561 - 596

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1469-5936

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0967-2567

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1080/09672567.2014.1001763

Citation Source

  • Scopus