As part of their 25th anniversary commemorative program, the Baker Institute at Rice University, sponsored a conference entitled “Prospects for Economic Growth in the United States”, held on December 6-7. The motivation for the event, as they announced it, was that “although economic growth has long been the engine of prosperity in the United States, recent economic, demographic and political trends have created strong headwinds that may limit future US economic growth”. To address that issue the Baker Institute brought together a small group of economists, each of whom was assigned a specific aspect of the topic to address. The participants included both academics from leading universities and prominent government economists.
Nine topics were addressed, among which were included: An Overview of US Economic Growth (Glenn Hubbard, Columbia University), Maintaining Future Economic Growth (Martin Feldstein, Harvard University), Effects of Immigration on Growth (George Borjas, Harvard University), Effects of Taxation on Growth (Robert Barro, Harvard University). In addition to the speaker, each of the nine papers was assigned a discussant.
Stephen Turnovsky, the Ford and Louisa Van Voorhis Professor of Economics, here at UW, was invited to address the issue of Inequality and Growth. His presentation was based on the research he has conducted in this area over the past 15 years or so. His focus was on the mechanisms relating inequality and growth and the implications for policy, illustrating with a number of examples. He also emphasized that to understand the nature of the growth-inequality relationship, one needs to embed it within a consistently specified general equilibrium growth model, recognizing that different frameworks offer different perspectives and may lead to different conclusions.
The conference included several participants who had spent significant times in government, four of whom served as Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors. These included: Martin Feldstein (1982-84), Michael Boskin (1998-93), Glenn Hubbard (2001-03) and Jason Furman (2013-2017).
While the main conference was restricted to participants, some events were open to the public. These included the keynote address on the trajectory of U.S. economic growth, presented by Martin Feldstein, President Emeritus of the National Bureau of Economic Research. In addition, the public was invited to a luncheon address by Harvard economist Stefanie Stantcheva, followed by a panel discussion on the factors that will shape future economic growth.