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Robert J. Gordon

Robert J. Gordon

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Robert James "Bob" Gordon is an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

An economist is a professional in the social science discipline of economics. The individual may also study, develop, and apply theories and concepts from economics and write about economic policy...

. He is the Stanley G. Harris Professor of the Social Sciences at Northwestern University
Northwestern University
Northwestern University is a private research university in Evanston and Chicago, Illinois, USA. Northwestern has eleven undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools offering 124 undergraduate degrees and 145 graduate and professional degrees....

. He is known for his work on productivity
Productivity is a measure of the efficiency of production. Productivity is a ratio of what is produced to what is required to produce it. Usually this ratio is in the form of an average, expressing the total output divided by the total input...

, growth, the causes of unemployment
Unemployment , as defined by the International Labour Organization, occurs when people are without jobs and they have actively sought work within the past four weeks...

, and airline
An airline provides air transport services for traveling passengers and freight. Airlines lease or own their aircraft with which to supply these services and may form partnerships or alliances with other airlines for mutual benefit...



Gordon graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A.
Bachelor of Arts
A Bachelor of Arts , from the Latin artium baccalaureus, is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, the sciences, or both...

 from Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

 in 1962. He then attended Oxford University and received his A.B. in 1967. Finally, he would receive his Ph.D.
A Ph.D. is a Doctor of Philosophy, an academic degree.Ph.D. may also refer to:* Ph.D. , a 1980s British group*Piled Higher and Deeper, a web comic strip*PhD: Phantasy Degree, a Korean comic series* PhD Docbook renderer, an XML renderer...

 from MIT in 1967 with a thesis titled Problems in the Measurement of Real Investment in the U.S. Private Economy. He returned to Oxford in 1969 and completed his A.M.
Master of Arts (postgraduate)
A Master of Arts from the Latin Magister Artium, is a type of Master's degree awarded by universities in many countries. The M.A. is usually contrasted with the M.S. or M.Sc. degrees...

Career and contributions

From 1995 to 1997, he served on the Boskin Commission
Boskin Commission
The Boskin Commission, formally called the "Advisory Commission to Study the Consumer Price Index", was appointed by the United States Senate in 1995 to study possible bias in the computation of the Consumer Price Index , which is used to measure inflation in the United States...

 to assess the accuracy of the United States Consumer Price Index (CPI), having written the definitive criticism of CPI inflation
In economics, inflation is a rise in the general level of prices of goods and services in an economy over a period of time.When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services. Consequently, inflation also reflects an erosion in the purchasing power of money – a...

 overstatement in 1990. He is also a member of the Business Cycle Dating Committee of the NBER
National Bureau of Economic Research
The National Bureau of Economic Research is an American private nonprofit research organization "committed to undertaking and disseminating unbiased economic research among public policymakers, business professionals, and the academic community." The NBER is well known for providing start and end...

, which determines when recessions start and end.

Robert J. Gordon's popular text Macroeconomics was the first to incorporate the rational expectations
Rational expectations
Rational expectations is a hypothesis in economics which states that agents' predictions of the future value of economically relevant variables are not systematically wrong in that all errors are random. An alternative formulation is that rational expectations are model-consistent expectations, in...

 hypothesis into the analysis of the Phillips curve
Phillips curve
In economics, the Phillips curve is a historical inverse relationship between the rate of unemployment and the rate of inflation in an economy. Stated simply, the lower the unemployment in an economy, the higher the rate of inflation...

. Soon all subsequent macro textbooks were expounding the "Expectations Augmented Phillips Curve." And now, some twenty years have passed from the first appearance of Gordon's text, and it is still the standard approach to the question of the trade-off between inflation and unemployment in the short and long run.

In addition, Gordon has written for Economic Journals, outlining the relation of the productivity growth of modern day inventions to the great inventions of the late 19th century. He focuses on the impact of computers in the post-1995 economy on the durable manufacturing sector. Furthermore, he emphasises the marginal productivity of computing technology affects standard of living in a much more contained fashion than the earlier great American inventions. He downplays the role of computer technology in the economic growth of the latter 20th century in accounting for business cycle and trends. In addition, he also questions the actual productivity of such technological developments.


Gordon is a member of a family of economists. Both his parents Robert Aaron and Margaret earned distinction independently, each contributing to economic knowledge with a view to real practical benefit for society, as did his brother David, himself more of a radical. For example, his father is the namesake of the "Gordon Report" which proposed reforms for the computation of the unemployment rate by the US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. He currently resides in Evanston, IL with his wife Julie.

Major books

  • Macroeconomics, Addison Wesley, 2002 ISBN 0-201-77036-9
  • The Measurement of Durable Goods Prices, University Of Chicago Press, 1990 ISBN 0-226-30455-8
  • "The Demand for and Supply of Inflation." Journal of Law and Economics 18 (Dec. 1975): 807-836
  • "Recent Developments in the Theory of Inflation and Unemployment." Journal of Monetary Economics 2 (April 1976): 195-219
  • Milton Friedman's Monetary Framework: A Debate With His Critics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977

External links