Michael Spence

Senior Fellow
Awards and Honors:
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Econometric Society (elected fellow)
Biography: 

Michael Spence is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, a professor of economics at the Stern School at New York University, and the Philip H. Knight Professor Emeritus of Management in the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University.

Spence’s latest publication is The Next Convergence: The Future of Economic Growth in a Multispeed World (2011).

He served as the chairman of the independent Commission on Growth and Development (2006–10).

He was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2001 and the John Bates Clark Medal from the American Economic Association in 1981. He was awarded the David A. Wells Prize for the outstanding doctoral dissertation at Harvard University and the John Kenneth Galbraith Prize for excellence in teaching.

He served as the Philip H. Knight Professor and dean of the Stanford Business School (1990–99). As dean, he oversaw the finances, organization, and educational policies of the school. He taught at Stanford as an associate professor of economics from 1973 to 1975.

He served as a professor of economics and business administration at Harvard University (1975–90). In 1983, he was named chairman of the Economics Department and the George Gund Professor of Economics and Business Administration. Spence also served as the dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard (1984–90), overseeing Harvard College, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and the Division of Continuing Education.

From 1977 to 1979, he was a member of the Economics Advisory Panel of the National Science Foundation and in 1979 served as a member of the Sloan Foundation Economics Advisory Committee. He has served as a member of the editorial boards of the American Economics Review, Bell Journal of Economics, and Journal of Economic Theory.

Spence is a member of the boards of directors for General Mills and a number of private companies. He was chairman of the National Research Council Board on Science, Technology and Economic Policy (1991–97).

He is a member of the American Economic Association and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Econometric Society.

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Recent Commentary

Featured

Emerging Vulnerabilities In Emerging Economies

by Michael Spencevia Project Syndicate
Friday, August 24, 2018

For many emerging economies, it is imperative to pursue a rebalancing of growth patterns, with a more active approach to managing debt and capital flows and their effects on asset prices, exchange rates, and growth. Otherwise, the dangers of unsustainable growth patterns will bring expansion to an abrupt halt.

Featured

The Italian Economy's Moment Of Truth

by Michael Spencevia Project Syndicate
Thursday, June 7, 2018

Unlike many other European countries, Italy still has not restored economic growth to its pre-crisis level – a fundamental failing that lies at the heart of many of its political problems. Now that a new anti-establishment government is taking power, it remains to be seen if the economy will be remade, or broken further.

Featured

Preventing The Balkanization Of The Internet

by Michael Spence, Fred Huvia Project Syndicate
Wednesday, March 28, 2018

With the entire global economy becoming inextricably linked to the Internet and digital technologies, stronger regulation is more important than ever. But if that regulation is fragmented, clumsy, heavy-handed, or inconsistent, the consequences for economic integration – and, in turn, prosperity – could be severe.

Featured

Pessimism Amid Plenty

by Michael Spencevia Project Syndicate
Friday, February 23, 2018

While there is no shortage of challenges facing economies and societies today, they should not be allowed to obscure positive long-term trends. The best remedies for undue pessimism are practical: effective fact-based policymaking, shaped by scientific inquiry and social solidarity.

Featured

Making Migration Work

by Michael Spencevia Project Syndicate
Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The UN is right to underscore the benefits of broad-based international cooperation on migration, particularly regarding measures that could, over time, reduce migrant flows by improving conditions in source countries. But, to be politically acceptable in virtually any country, such cooperation must respect national sovereignty.

Featured

The Missing Ingredients Of Growth

by Michael Spence, Karen Karniol-Tambourvia Project Syndicate
Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Several positive macroeconomic trends suggest that the global economy could finally be in a position to achieve sustained and inclusive growth. But whether that happens will depend on whether governments can muster a more forceful response to changing economic and technological conditions.

Featured

The Global Economy In 2018

by Michael Spencevia Project Syndicate
Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The global economy will confront serious challenges in the months and years ahead, and looming in the background is a mountain of debt that makes markets nervous – and that thus increases the system's vulnerability to destabilizing shocks. Yet the baseline scenario seems to be one of continuity, with no obvious convulsions on the horizon.

Featured

Innovation And Prosperity In An Age Of Transition

by Michael Spencevia Centre for International Governance Innovation
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
The post-World War II period of unprecedented growth and prosperity has brought home lessons, many of which are relevant today and likely will be in the future. Several things stand out after studying the growth patterns and challenges in a wide range of developed and developing countries for the past 15 years.
Featured

Empowering China’s New Miracle Workers

by Michael Spencevia Project Syndicate
Tuesday, October 24, 2017

China’s success in the next five years will depend largely on how well the government manages the tensions underlying its complex agenda. In particular, China’s leaders will need to balance a muscular Communist Party, setting standards and protecting the public interest, with an empowered market, driving the economy into the future.

Featured

Tackling Non-Inclusive Growth

by Michael Spencevia Project Syndicate
Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Rigorous research on the causes and consequences of unequally distributed growth is necessary to identify solutions. But the best analysis means little in the absence of hands-on consensus-building and political engagement.

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