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Prizes for Basic Research -- Human Capital, Economic Might and the Shadow of History

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  • Ilan Noy

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of Hawaii at Manoa)

  • Joshua Aizenman

    ()
    (Economics Department, University of California, Santa Cruz
    NBER)

Abstract

This paper studies the impact of global factors on patterns of basic research across countries and time. We rely on the records of major scientific awards, and on data dealing with global economic and historical trends. Specifically, we investigate the degree to which scale or threshold effects account for countries share of major prizes [Nobel, Fields, Kyoto and Wolf]. We construct a stylized model, predicting that lagged relative GDP of a country relative to the GDP of all countries engaging in basic research is an important explanatory variable of country's share of prizes. Scale effects imply that the association between the GDP share of a country and its prize share tends to be logistic -- above a threshold, there is a "take off" range, where the prize share increases at an accelerating rate with the relative GDP share of the country, until it reaches "maturity" stage. Our empirical analysis confirms the importance of lagged relative GDP in accounting for countries' prize shares, and the presence of "winner takes all" scale effect benefiting the leader. Using measures of casualties during the wars, we find that the only significant effect can be found for a lag of 3 decades – i.e., deaths in the war negatively impact the viability of basic research about 30 years after the fact. With more recent data, we document the growing importance of countries that used to be at the periphery of global research, possibly advancing towards the take off stage.

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File URL: http://www.economics.hawaii.edu/research/workingpapers/WP_07-5.pdf
File Function: First version, 2007
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 200705.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hai:wpaper:200705

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Keywords: Global economic trends; basic research; World War I and II; human capital; winner takes all;

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References

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  1. Krugman, Paul, 1991. "History versus Expectations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(2), pages 651-67, May.
  2. Bruce A. Weinberg & David W. Galenson, 2005. "Creative Careers: The Life Cycles of Nobel Laureates in Economics," NBER Working Papers 11799, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Andrew B. Bernard & Meghan R. Busse, 2004. "Who Wins the Olympic Games: Economic Resources and Medal Totals," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 413-417, February.
  4. Donald R. Davis & David E. Weinstein, 2004. "A Search for Multiple Equilibria in Urban Industrial Structure," NBER Working Papers 10252, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Lucas, Robert Jr, 1976. "Econometric policy evaluation: A critique," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 19-46, January.
  6. Gary S. Becker, 1975. "Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis, with Special Reference to Education, 2nd ed," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck75-1.
  7. Paul A.David, 2005. "Path dependence, its critics and the quest for ‘historical economics’," Economic History 0502003, EconWPA.
  8. Stephen S. Everhart & Mariusz A. Sumlinski, 2001. "Trends in Private Investment in Developing Countries : Statistics for 1970-2000 and the Impact on Private Investment of Corruption and the Quality of Public Investment," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 13989, July.
  9. Benjamin F. Jones, 2005. "Age and Great Invention," NBER Working Papers 11359, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Salter, Ammon J. & Martin, Ben R., 2001. "The economic benefits of publicly funded basic research: a critical review," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 509-532, March.
  11. Rose, Andrew K, 2005. "Size Really Doesn't Matter: In Search of a National Scale Effect," CEPR Discussion Papers 5350, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Andrew K. Rose, 2006. "Size Really Doesn't Matter: In Search of a National Scale Effect," NBER Working Papers 12191, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Dailami, Mansoor & Kurlat, Sergio & Lim, Jamus Jerome, 2012. "Bilateral M&A activity from the global south," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5953, The World Bank.
  2. Maria Rosaria Carillo & Erasmo Papagni, 2006. "Social Rewards in Science and Economic Growth," Discussion Papers 10_2006, D.E.S. (Department of Economic Studies), University of Naples "Parthenope", Italy.
  3. Maria Rosaria Carillo & Erasmo Papagni & Fabian Capitanio, 2008. "Effects of social interactions on scientists' productivity," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 29(3), pages 263-279, July.

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