A. Michael Spence

Distinguished Visiting Fellow


Growth and development economics and policy, structural change in the global economy, impact on advanced and developing countries, informational structure of markets, growth and policy in the major emerging markets; China, India, Brazil.


Michael Spence is distinguished visiting fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). Previously, Dr. Spence served as the chairman of an independent commission on growth in developing countries, professor emeritus of management in the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University, a senior fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford and professor of economics at the Stern School of Business at New York University.

He served as dean of the Stanford business school from 1990 to 1999, where he oversaw the finances, organization, and educational policies of the school. From 1984 to 1990, he served as the dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard, overseeing Harvard College, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and the Division of Continuing Education. He taught at Stanford as an associate professor of economics from 1973 to 1975. From 1975 to 1990, he served as professor of economics and business administration at Harvard, holding a joint appointment in the business school and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. In 1983, he was named chairman of the economics department and George Gund professor of economics and business administration.

He is the author of the book, The Next Convergence: The Future of Economic Growth in a Multispeed World (Ferrar, Straus and Giroux, forthcoming in May 2011). He writes monthly comments for Project Syndicate and occasional op-ed pieces in the Financial Times and other major newspapers and magazines.

Dr. Spence is a recipient of the John Kenneth Galbraith Prize for excellence in teaching and the John Bates Clark medal, awarded every two years to an economist under the age of forty, for a "significant contribution to economic thought and knowledge." In 2001, Spence received the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences.

He earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy at Princeton and was selected for a Rhodes scholarship. He was awarded a BS-MA in mathematics from Oxford and earned his PhD in economics at Harvard.

Dr. Spence serves on the boards of Genpact and Mercadolibre, and a number of private companies. He is a member of the board of the Stanford Management Company, and the International Chamber of Commerce Research Foundation. He is a senior adviser to Oak Hill Investment Management and a consultant to PIMCO.

Featured Publications

Other Report Authors: A. Michael Spence and Sandile Hlatshwayo

Many low-paying jobs have moved from the United States to rapidly growing markets abroad, and higher-paying jobs may soon follow. While Americans benefit from cheaper goods, employment opportunities have diminished. Policymakers should address this trade-off as a first step toward tackling questions of inequality and economic distribution.

See more in Labor; United States; Industrial Policy

All Publications


Europe or Anti-Europe?

Author: A. Michael Spence
Project Syndicate

Since the 2008 financial crisis, the conventional wisdom has been that a long, difficult recovery for eurozone economies will eventually lead to strong growth. But this narrative is losing credibility.

See more in Europe; Economics


Brexit in Context

Author: A. Michael Spence
Project Syndicate

I do not believe that foreigners contribute usefully by issuing strong opinions about how a country’s citizens, or those of a larger unit like the European Union, should decide when faced with an important political choice. Our insights, based on international experience, may sometimes be helpful; but there should never be any confusion about the asymmetry of roles.

See more in United Kingdom; International Organizations and Alliances


Rebooting China

Author: A. Michael Spence
Project Syndicate

A. Michael Spence urges China's leaders to be steady-handed and sensible in their foreign policy and domestic reform agendas so as to maintain the kind of economic stability necessary for complex structural changes to work their way through the Chinese economy with minimal disruption.

See more in China; Financial Markets; Economic Development

CFR Events


Corporate Program Conference Call: Obama's Speech on Job Creation

Speakers Edward AldenBernard L. Schwartz Senior Fellow, Director of the forthcoming CFR Independent Task Force on U.S. Trade and Investment Policy, Council on Foreign Relations, A. Michael SpenceDistinguished Visiting Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations
Presider Christopher AlessiAssociate Staff Writer,
September 8, 2011 2:30–3:30 p.m.

This meeting is on the record.

Meeting ⁄ New York

John B. Hurford Memorial Lecture: A Conversation with Michael Spence

Speaker A. Michael SpenceDistinguished Visiting Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations; Recipient, Nobel Prize in Economics; Former Chairman of the Commission on Growth and Development (2006-2010); Author, The Next Convergence: The Future of Economic Growth in a Multispeed World
Presider John CassidyStaff Writer, The New Yorker
May 16, 2011 5:30–6:00 p.m. - Reception
6:00–7:00 p.m. - Meeting

This meeting is on the record.




Fareed Zakaria GPS: Interview

In an interview with Fareed Zakaria, Michael Spence discusses the effect of income inequality on national economies.


Interview with Michael Spence

Newsweek interviews Michael Spence about his book The Next Convergence, American inequality, the future of China's economy, and how to win a Nobel.


Q&A on the Global Economy

In this interview with Amar C. Bakshi, Michael Spence gives his take on the economic future of China and the world.