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Keeping a learned society young


  • Herbert Dawid

    (Universität Bielefeld)

  • Gustav Feichtinger

    (Technische Universität Wien)

  • Joshua Goldstein

    (Max-Planck-Institut für Demografische Forschung)

  • Vladimir Veliov

    (Technische Universität Wien)


Aging organizations - regardless of whether they are firms, faculties, societies, political bodies, teams, or national academies - seek ways to rejuvenate. This paper demonstrates that the best way to keep an organization young is through a mixed strategy of recruiting both young and old, and that, contrary to intuition, recruiting those of middle age is the least effective strategy for maintaining a younger age structure. The aging of learned societies is a problem in many national academies. Faced with rising life expectancy, particularly for older persons, the average age of academy members is increasing. Another reason for "overaging" is an increase in the age at election. In an organization with a fixed size, the annual intake is strictly determined by the number of deaths and the statutory retirement age. This can, among many learned societies, lead to a fundamental dilemma: the desire to maintain a young age structure, while still guaranteeing a high recruitment rate. We derive an optimal recruitment policy which is bimodal, i.e., it entails shifting recruitment partly to younger ages and partly to older ages, while decreasing the recruitment of middle-aged candidates. Although the optimization problem explicitly involves only the average age and the recruitment rate as objectives, the methodology implicitly allows us to take into consideration all other objectives (formal or informal) used in the actual election practice.

Suggested Citation

  • Herbert Dawid & Gustav Feichtinger & Joshua Goldstein & Vladimir Veliov, 2009. "Keeping a learned society young," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 20(22), pages 541-558, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:dem:demres:v:20:y:2009:i:22

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gustav Feichtinger & Alexia Prskawetz & Fernando Riosmena & Inga Freund & Maria Winkler-Dworak, 2007. "On the age dynamics of learned societies - taking the example of the Austrian Academy Sciences," Vienna Yearbook of Population Research, Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, vol. 5(1), pages 107-131.
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    1. repec:eee:thpobi:v:82:y:2012:i:3:p:158-169 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    age-specific recruitment policy; fixed-size population; optimal control;

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • Z0 - Other Special Topics - - General


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