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Trevor Swan And The Neoclassical Growth Model

  • Robert W. Dimand
  • Barbara J. Spencer

Trevor Swan independently developed the neoclassical growth model. Swan (1956) was published ten months later than Solow (1956), but included a more complete analysis of technical progress, which Solow treated separately in Solow (1957). Reference is sometimes made to the "Solow-Swan growth model", but more commonly reference is made only to the "Solow growth model". This paper examines the history of Swan's development of the growth model, the similarities and differences between the approaches of Swan and Solow and the reasons why Swan's contribution has been overshadowed. We draw on unpublished work to show that in 1950, Swan was working on a growth model in a verbal format. In 1956, Swan published only a simplified version of his model based on a Cobb-Douglas production function, but Swan's original model (circulated July 1956 and published posthumously in 2002) was much more general. Swan's reluctance to publish was consistent with his perhaps counterproductive modesty and perfectionism. His well known paper, "Longer run problems of the Balance of Payments" was circulated in 1955, eight years before publication in 1963. His pioneering work in 1945, developing the first macroeconomic model of the Australian economy, was published posthumously in 1989.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w13950.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13950.

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Date of creation: Apr 2008
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Publication status: published as Robert W. Dimand & Barbara J. Spencer, 2009. "Trevor Swan and the Neoclassical Growth Model," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 41(5), pages 107-126, Supplemen.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13950
Note: EFG
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  1. T. W. Swan, 1940. "Australian War Finance And Banking Policy," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 16(1), pages 50-67, 06.
  2. Swan, T W, 1989. "The Principle of Effective Demand--A 'Real Life' Model," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 65(191), pages 378-98, December.
  3. T. W. Swan, 1950. "Progress Report On The Trade Cycle," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 26(51), pages 186-200, December.
  4. W. E. G. Salter, 1959. "THE PRODUCTION FUNCTION and THE DURABILITY OF CAPITAL1," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 35(70), pages 47-66, 04.
  5. Robert Dixon, 2003. "Trevor Swan on Equilibrium Growth with Technical Progress," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 79(247), pages 487-490, December.
  6. T. W. Swan, 1956. "ECONOMIC GROWTH and CAPITAL ACCUMULATION," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 32(2), pages 334-361, November.
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