NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Publications by Robert W. Dimand

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April 2008Trevor Swan And The Neoclassical Growth Model
with Barbara J. Spencer: w13950
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 We draw on unpublished work to show that in 1950, Swan was working on a growth model in a verbal format.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 S...

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