Robert Barro

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Robert Barro
Born (1944-09-28) September 28, 1944 (age 77)
New York
Nationality United States
Institution Harvard University
Field Macroeconomics
School or tradition
New classical macroeconomics
Alma mater Harvard (PhD 1970)
Caltech (B.S. 1965)
Influences David Ricardo
Robert Lucas, Jr.
Zvi Griliches
Influenced Zvi Hercowitz
Xavier Sala-i-Martin
Alberto Alesina
Contributions Ricardan Equivalence Hypothesis
Economic growth
Time consistency
Information at IDEAS / RePEc

Robert Joseph Barro (born September 28, 1944) is an American classical macroeconomist and the Paul M. Warburg Professor of Economics at Harvard University. The Research Papers in Economics project ranked him as the third most influential economist in the world, as of June 2013, based on his academic contributions.[1] Barro is considered one of the founders of new classical macroeconomics, along with Robert Lucas, Jr. and Thomas J. Sargent.[2] He is currently a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.

Academic career

Barro graduated with a B.S. in physics from the California Institute of Technology in 1965, where he learned under Richard Feynman, but he realized he "wouldn't be close to the top in those fields".[3] He then turned to economics and earned a PhD from Harvard University in 1970. He first reached wide notice with a 1974 paper entitled "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?", a paper that argued that under certain assumptions, present borrowing would be matched by increased bequest to future generations to pay future taxes expected to pay the debt on the government bonds. The paper was in direct response to the Blinder-Solow results, which had implied that the long term implications of government borrowing would be compensated for by the wealth effect. This paper is among the most cited in macro-economics, and its implications of his Ricardian Equivalence are still being debated in the present.[citation needed]

Barro collaborated with Herschel Grossman to produce the influential article "A General Disequilibrium Model of Income," which, for many years, held the distinction of being the most cited article ever published in the American Economic Review.[4] The article explored the idea that disequilibrium in one market can have spillover effects to another market, creating a distinction between notional demand and effective demand. Barro and Grossman expanded on their work and produced the classic textbook Money, Employment, and Inflation in 1976.[5]

In 1976, he authored another influential paper, "Rational expectations and the role of monetary policy," in which he argued that information asymmetries would cause real effects as rational economic actors in response to uncertainty but not in response to expected monetary policy changes. While he has revisited the topic since then and critically appraised the paper, it was important in integrating the role of money into neo-classical economics, and in the synthesis of general equilibrium and macroeconomic models.

In 1983, he applied this information asymmetry argument to the role of central banks and concluded that central banks, to have credibility in inflation fighting, have to be locked into inflation targets that they cannot, to reduce unemployment, violate. During the 1970s, economist Arthur Okun developed the concept of the Misery Index, which Jimmy Carter publicized during his 1976 presidential campaign, and Ronald Reagan did the same in his 1980 presidential campaign. Numerous sources incorrectly credit Barro with this because of the similarity of name with his own "Barro Misery Index." Barro's version first appeared in a 1999 BusinessWeek article.[6]

His 1984 Macroeconomics textbook remains a standard for explaining the subject, and his 1995 book, with Columbia University economist Xavier Sala-i-Martin, on Economic Growth, is a widely cited and read graduate-level textbook on the theory and evidence concerning long-run economic growth. Barro's research in the 1990s was focused mainly on the theoretical and empirical determinants of growth: he gave fundamental contributions to the theory of endogenous growth (with particular attention to the links between innovation and public investment on one side and growth on the other side), and he was a pioneer in the econometric analysis of the main factors associated with growth in the modern era.[7] He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1988.[8]

Another often-cited work is a 1988 paper co-authored with Gary Becker, "A Reformulation of the Economic Theory of Fertility" published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, which is influential in thinking about "infinite time horizon" modelling.

In the last decade, Barro has begun investigating the influence of religion and popular culture on political economy, working with his wife Rachel McCleary.

Barro believes that the Keynesian multiplier is less than one. He believes that for every dollar the government borrows and spends, spending elsewhere in the economy falls by almost the same amount.[9]

Barro's work has been central to many of the economic and public policy debates of the last 30 years, including business cycle theory, growth theory, the neo-classical synthesis and public policy. Barro is doctor honoris causa from Universidad Francisco Marroquin.

Finally, Barro has been an outspoken opponent of stimulus spending, calling Obama's stimulus bill "garbage" and "the worst bill since the 1930s."[10][11][12]

Personal life

Barro has three children: his oldest daughter, Jennifer, and two sons, Jason and Josh. Jennifer is a gastroenterologist in Greenwich, Connecticut. She received her medical degree from Stanford University School of Medicine in 1998. She completed her internship and residency at Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center and returned to Stanford University for her fellowship. Jason received a master's degree and a doctorate in economics from Harvard. He is an assistant professor of industrial organization at the Harvard Business School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Josh Barro, is a politics editor at Business Insider. In 2012, Forbes selected him as one of the "30 Under 30" media "brightest stars under the age of 30",[13] and David Brooks listed him as part of the "vibrant and increasingly influential center-right conversation."[14]

Selected publications


  • Barro, Robert J. (1984). Macroeconomics. New York: Wiley. ISBN 0-471-87407-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Barro, Robert J.; Sala-i-Martin, Xavier (1987). The application of rational expectations theory to clapping one-handed. New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-003697-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Barro, Robert J.; Sala-i-Martin, Xavier (2003). Economic growth (2nd ed.). Massachusetts: MIT Press. ISBN 9780262025539.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Journal articles


  1. "Economist Rankings at IDEAS – Top 10% Authors, as of March 2011". Research Papers in Economics. August 2011. Retrieved September 20, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Solow, Robert, ed. (2004). Productivity growth, inflation, and unemployment: The collected essays of Robert J. Gordon. New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 226–227. ISBN 0-521-53142-X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Topping the Charts: Prakash Loungani profiles Harvard macroeconomist Robert Barro". September 1, 2007. Retrieved June 5, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Spolaore (2008).
  5. Kolmar, 803.
  6. Barro, Robert (February 22, 1999). "Reagan vs. Clinton: Who's the Economic Champ?". BusinessWeek.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Interview with Robert J. Barro" at Francisco Marroquin University. Guatemala, May 2007
  8. "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter B" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved May 17, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Cassidy, John (October 10, 2011). "The Demand Doctor". The New Yorker.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Barro, Robert J. (February 23, 2010). ""The Stimulus Evidence One Year On" Economist Robert Barro, Harvard University, WSJ". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved June 5, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Barro, Robert J. (October 1, 2009). ""Stimulus Spending Doesn't Work" Economist Robert Barro, Harvard University, WSJ". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved June 5, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Robinson, Peter (February 19, 2009). "Paul Samuelson Vs. Milton Friedman". Forbes. Retrieved June 5, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Caroline Howard and Michael Noer (eds) (December 17, 2012). "30 Under 30 – Media". Forbes. Retrieved March 27, 2013.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Brooks, David (November 19, 2012). "The Conservative Future". New York Times. Retrieved March 27, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links