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Michael Spence    

Nobel Economist

Michael Spence is a Nobel-prize winning economist, whose most famous research focuses on the job-market signaling model. In this model, employees signal their respective skills to employers by acquiring a certain degree of education, which is costly to them. Employers will pay higher wages to more educated employees, because they know that the proportion of employees with high abilities is higher among the educated ones, as it is less costly for them to acquire education than it is for employees with low abilities. For the model to work, it is not even necessary for education to have any intrinsic value if it can convey information about the sender (employee) to the recipient (employer) and if the signal is costly.

Spence, whose current scholarship focuses on economic policy in emerging markets, the economics of information, and the impact of leadership on economic grow is Chairman of the independent Commission on Growth and Development, a global policy group focused on strategies for producing rapid and sustainable economic growth, and reducing poverty.

Spence graduated from Princeton in 1966 with a degree in philosophy and went on to study mathematics at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. Spence is also the former Dean of the Stanford Graduate School of Business and is a professor of economics at New York University's Stern School of Business.

Speech Topics


China’s Future Growth Potential and Growth Patterns

China is a high middle income country. But that averages across considerable variation in incomes across and within regions. Some of the future growth potential lies in bringing the lower income up to tier one city levels. In addition, there is considerable potential to increase productivity across the economy as a second growth driver. That said, future growth rates at full potential will not be as high as those in the early 2000’s. The catch-up effect in terms of technology was powerful then. But China has dramatically closed the gap. I will then talk about some particularly high growth areas in the global economy and China’s participation in them.

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