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Peer Effects in Science - Evidence from the Dismissal of Scientists in Nazi Germany

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Author Info

  • Fabian Waldinger

Abstract

This paper analyzes peer effects among university scientists. Specifically, it investigates whether the number of peers and their average quality affects the productivity of researchers in physics, chemistry, and mathematics. The usual endogeneity problems related to estimating peer effects are addressed by using the dismissal of scientists by the Nazi government as a source of exogenous variation in the peer group of scientists staying in Germany. Using a newly constructed panel dataset covering the universe of physicists, chemists, and mathematicians at all German universities from 1925 until 1938 I investigate peer effects at the local level and among co-authors. There is no evidence for localized peer effects, as neither department level (e.g. the physics department) nor specialization level (e.g. all theoretical physicists in the department) peers affect a researcher's productivity. Among co-authors, however, there is strong and significant evidence that peer quality affects a researcher's productivity. Loosing a co-author of average quality reduces the productivity of an average scientist by about 13 percent in physics and 16.5 percent in chemistry.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp0910.

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Date of creation: Feb 2009
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0910

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Web page: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/series.asp?prog=CEP

Related research

Keywords: peer effects; Nazi Germany; science; university; higher education; spillovers; co-authors;

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References

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  1. Levin, Sharon G & Stephan, Paula E, 1991. "Research Productivity over the Life Cycle: Evidence for Academic Scientists," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 114-32, March.
  2. Joachim Voth & Thomas Ferguson, 2008. "Betting on Hitler: The value of political connections in Nazi Germany," Economics Working Papers 1183, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  3. Bruce A. Weinberg, 2006. "Geography and innovation: evidence from Nobel Laureate physicists," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  4. Manski, Charles F, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(3), pages 531-42, July.
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  7. Adair Morse, 2006. "Are elite universities losing their competitive edge?," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  8. Peter Thompson & Melanie Fox-Kean, 2005. "Patent Citations and the Geography of Knowledge Spillovers: A Reassessment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 450-460, March.
  9. Ajay K. Agrawal & Avi Goldfarb, 2006. "Restructuring Research: Communication Costs and the Democratization of University Innovation," NBER Working Papers 12812, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Pierre Azoulay & Joshua S. Graff Zivin & Jialan Wang, 2008. "Superstar Extinction," NBER Working Papers 14577, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Benjamin F. Jones, 2005. "Age and Great Invention," NBER Working Papers 11359, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. James D. Adams, 2004. "Scientific Teams and Institution Collaborations: Evidence from U.S. Universities, 1981-1999," NBER Working Papers 10640, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Oriana Bandiera & Iwan Barankay & Imran Rasul, 2010. "Social Incentives in the Workplace," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(2), pages 417-458.
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  1. Departmental characteristics play an important role in determining the productivity of individual researchers
    by Blog Admin in Impact of Social Sciences on 2013-06-27 10:40:20
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