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About Chow

 

Gregory C. Chow has been a major figure in econometrics and applied economics. Every beginning econometrics student learns the Chow test, a statistical test for structural change in a regression. However, Gregory’s work extends far beyond his eponymous test. He was a major figure in the postwar flowering of econometrics, and his applied work included important research in microeconomics, macroeconomics, and development economics (particularly in reference to Southeast Asia).He has also been a major adviser on economic policy, economic reform, and economic education in both Taiwan and mainland China. 
Gregory grew up in Guangdong province in South China, one of seven children in a wealthy family. His father, Tin-Pong Chow, served as the chairman of the Chamber of Commerce of Guangzhou (the capital city of Guangdong, formerly Canton) for many years; his mother, Pauline Law Chow, studied in England. When the Japanese invaded China in 1937, the Chow family moved from Guangzhou to Hong Kong where Gregory attended primary school.

In 1942, after the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong, the family moved to Macao. The Chow family returned to Guangzhou in 1945, at the end of World War II. At the age of five Gregory learned swimming and the Chinese art of Taichi, both his father's hobbles, and he still practices both almost daily.
Gregory entered Cornell University as a sophomore in 1948, after one year at Lingnan University in Guangzhou. Being mathematically inclined, he took advantage of the strong mathematics department at Cornell. But in the economics department, mathematical economics and econometrics were largely absent from the curriculum, and Gregory had to study these topics on his own. He learned enough to know that he wanted to specialize in econometrics. He went on to graduate study at the University of Chicago, entering in the fall of 1951.
The 1950s were a heroic period for Chicago economics, with Milton Friedman the dominant intellectual figure. Gregory was strongly influenced by Friedman’s views that economic models should be kept simple and judged mainly on their ability to explain the data. At Chicago Gregory took courses from other luminaries, such as the philosopher Rudoph Carnap, Henrik Houthakker, Tjalling Koopmans, William Kruskal, Jacob Marschak, L. J. Savage, and Allan Wallis. He also attended a seminar on methodology in the social sciences organized by Friedrich Hayek. The seminar’s participants included the physicist Enrico Fermi, Friedman, Savage, Wallis, and fellow student Gary Becker.
Gregory’s doctoral dissertation, which became a standard reference in empirical economics, was a study of the factors determining the demand for automobiles. After the publication of his thesis, Gregory was invited by Al Harberger of Chicago to write a paper extending his work. Gregory was curious to see whether the equations he had estimated in his thesis were applicable to data outside the sample period, and so he developed a statistical test for stability of the coefficients of a regression over time. This work was the origin of the Chow test.
Gregory’s first position after receiving his Ph.D. in 1955 was at the Sloan School of Management of M.I.T., which had the only economics department that rivaled Chicago in the early 1950s.At M.I.T. during those years Paul Samuelson was doing pioneering work in mathematical economics, and Robert Solow was developing the model of economic growth that remains central to current thinking on growth and business cycles. Thus, at both Chicago and M.I.T., Gregory was fortunate to have been exposed to some of the most fertile thinkers in early postwar economics. From M.I.T., Gregory accepted a tenured position at Cornell in 1959, his alma mater. But he found the environment there less suitable, and so he accepted an offer from Ralph Gomory to join the IBM Thomas Watson Research Center at Yorktown Heights, New York, for a year. Gregory so liked IBM that after a few months he resigned his professorship at Cornell to join the company---quite an unusual career move at the time. Gregory was highly productive at IBM, doing work in econometrics, applied economics (including studies of the demand for money, the demand for computers, and the multiplier-accelerator model of Keynesian macroeconomics), and dynamic economics. While at IBM Gregory also applied his economic analysis and judgment together with his econometric skills to advise on corporate planning and to solve business problems for the company. Beginning in the middle 1960's, he also visited Taiwan often and served as a major economic adviser to the Taiwan government.
In 1970 Gregory accepted a professorship at Princeton, succeeding Oskar Morgenstern as the Director of the Econometric Research Program. He remained Director for almost three decades, stepping down in 1997. In 2001 Princeton University renamed the Program the Gregory C. Chow Econometric Research Program in his honor. At Princeton he continued to do innovative research in both econometrics and applied economics. His econometric research included the study of simultaneous equation systems, both linear and nonlinear; full-information maximum likelihood estimation; estimation with missing observations; estimation of large macroeconomic models; modeling and forecasting with time series methods. Combining econometrics, economic theory, and macroeconomics, Gregory did path-breaking work on optimal control theory and its application to stochastic economic systems. In more recent years he developed and championed a solution approach for dynamic optimization problems using Lagrange multiplier methods. Gregory also published a number of monographs and popular textbooks (his econometrics textbook has been translated into Chinese and Polish). Among his eleven books are:
Demand for Automobiles for the United States, 1957; Analysis and Control of Dynamic Economic Systems, 1975; Econometrics, 1983; The Chinese Economy, 1985; Dynamic Economics, 1997, and China’s Economic Transformation, 2002
From the middle 1960s Gregory became increasingly interested in the economies of Taiwan and later China and Hong Kong, an interest that would result in many scholarly books and articles. Gregory visited East Asia many times, establishing contacts with policy-makers and businesspeople. He observed, and influenced, the remarkable growth of Taiwan and Hong Kong and played a role in the transformation of the economy of mainland China from a centrally planned economy to one with a large and robust market sector. In the process Gregory has become a well-known figure in China. Gregory also did a great deal for ties between China and the United States, including supporting education programs for Chinese students in both countries. His experiences and writings on China were the basis for a popular undergraduate course on the Chinese economy that Gregory taught regularly at Princeton for many years. What may yet become his most influential book, China's Economy in Transformation, was published by Blackwell in early 2002.In this book Gregory studies the process of Chinese economic transformation, as influenced by a combination of historical-institutional factors, government policy choices, and market-based incentives.
Gregory is a member of Academia Sinica and the American Philosophical Society, and a fellow of the American Statistical Association and of the Econometric Society. He was Chairman of the American Economic Association’s Committee on Exchanges in Economics with the People’s Republic of China from 1981 to 1994, and Co-Chairman of the U.S. Committee on Economics Education and Research in China from 1985 60 1994. He served as adviser to the Premier and the Commission on Restructuring the Economic System of the PRC on the reform of China’s economy. He has been appointed Honorary Professor at Fudan, Hainan, Nankai, Shandong, the People’s and Zhongshan Universities and the City University of Hong Kong, and has received honorary doctorate degrees from Zhongzhan University and Lingnan University in Hong Kong.
Gregory's wife, Paula K. Chow, is the director of Princeton's International Center. Paula co-founded the Center in 1974, with Louise Sayen, as a volunteer organization. The Center became a part of the University in 1978.With the help of over one hundred volunteers, friends and students, the Center serves the needs of Princeton's international and internationally-minded students and scholars. It also has initiated many intercultural programs on and off campus. Paula is popular figure in the Princeton community, and Gregory often jokes that he is best known in Princeton as Paula’s husband. The couple has two sons, John and James, both engineers, and a daughter, Meimei, a radiologist.

 

Paula Chow, Gregory Chow’s wife, was the leader of the Davis International Center since its founding in 1974 and retired in 2010.
Chow came to Princeton in 1970 with her husband, Gregory, now the Class of 1913 Professor Emeritus of Political Economy. Both natives of China, they had met and married while she was working on her master's degree and he was working on his doctoral degree at the University of Chicago.
Her volunteer work with Princeton's international wives through the University League led to an interest in helping to set up an international center at the University. Her skills and her contacts made her the natural choice to direct the center when it was firmly established.
Along with the increase in the size of the international community at Princeton, Chow notes the growth in the number of international student organizations and the programs they offer as one of the greatest changes during her tenure. Her 2008-09 report lists 26 international student organizations, ranging from the Bulgarian Cultural Center to Princeton Chinese Theatre, and numerous programs, including discussions with faculty on timely global topics in the news and the annual international festival in April.

Another milestone for Chow came in 2007 when Kathryn Wasserman Davis, a philanthropist noted for her efforts to promote international understanding, and her son, Shelby M.C. Davis, a member of Princeton's class of 1958 and a University trustee, made a $5 million gift to the international center. "That really put us on a different level," Chow said.
Students, faculty, staff and volunteers already have begun expressing their appreciation for Chow's work over the years. A video in her honor was produced by the Association of Chinese Students and Scholars at Princeton University and shown at its Chinese New Year celebration in February.
After her retirement, she joins her husband, who transferred to emeritus status in 2001, on some of his travels and plans to offer her services as a translator of Chinese. "Life is always a positive experience for me," she said. "I'm sure I will find more positive experiences."


Gregory C. Chow

Paula. Chow(Middle)

Gregory C. Chow and his wife Paula Chow