IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/tpr/restat/v92y2010i1p1-14.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Age and Great Invention

Author

Listed:
  • Benjamin F. Jones

    (Kellogg School of Management and NBER)

Abstract

Great achievements in knowledge are produced by older innovators today than they were a century ago. Nobel Prize winners and great inventors have become especially unproductive at younger ages. Meanwhile, the early life cycle decline is not offset by increased productivity beyond middle age. The early life cycle dynamics are closely related to age when the PhD was received, and I discuss a theory where knowledge accumulation across generations leads innovators to seek more education over time. More generally, the narrowing innovative life cycle reduces, other things equal, aggregate creative output. This productivity drop is particularly acute if innovators' raw ability is greatest when young. © 2010 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Suggested Citation

  • Benjamin F. Jones, 2010. "Age and Great Invention," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(1), pages 1-14, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:92:y:2010:i:1:p:1-14
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/rest.2009.11724
    File Function: link to full text
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Benjamin F. Jones, 2009. "The Burden of Knowledge and the "Death of the Renaissance Man": Is Innovation Getting Harder?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(1), pages 283-317.
    2. David W. Galenson, 2004. "A Portrait of the Artist as a Very Young or Very Old Innovator: Creativity at the Extremes of the Life Cycle," NBER Working Papers 10515, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Martin L. Weitzman, 1998. "Recombinant Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(2), pages 331-360.
    4. David W. Galenson, 2004. "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young or Old Innovator: Measuring the Careers of Modern Novelists," NBER Working Papers 10213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Samuel S. Kortum, 1997. "Research, Patenting, and Technological Change," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(6), pages 1389-1420, November.
    6. David W. Galenson & Bruce A. Weinberg, 2001. "Creating Modern Art: The Changing Careers of Painters in France from Impressionism to Cubism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 1063-1071, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Benjamin Jones & E.J. Reedy & Bruce A. Weinberg, 2014. "Age and Scientific Genius," NBER Working Papers 19866, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Daron Acemoglu & Ufuk Akcigit & Murat Alp Celik, 2014. "Young, Restless and Creative: Openness to Disruption and Creative Innovations," PIER Working Paper Archive 14-004, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
    3. Jonathan S. Feinstein, 2017. "The Creative Development of Fields: Learning, Creativity, Paths, Implications," Journal of the Knowledge Economy, Springer;Portland International Center for Management of Engineering and Technology (PICMET), vol. 8(1), pages 23-62, March.
    4. Petros Gkotsis & Antonio Vezzani, 2016. "Technological diffusion as a recombinant process," JRC Working Papers on Corporate R&D and Innovation 2016-07, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    5. Albert Banal-Estañol & Ines Macho-Stadler & David Pérez-Castrillo, 2016. "Key Success Drivers in Public Research Grants: Funding the Seeds of Radical Innovation in Academia?," CESifo Working Paper Series 5852, CESifo.
    6. Philippe Aghion & Benjamin F. Jones & Charles I. Jones, 2018. "Artificial Intelligence and Economic Growth," NBER Chapters, in: The Economics of Artificial Intelligence: An Agenda, pages 237-282, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Cristiano Antonelli & Giuseppe Scellato, 2013. "Complexity and technological change: knowledge interactions and firm level total factor productivity," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 23(1), pages 77-96, January.
    8. Marcus Berliant & Masahisa Fujita, 2011. "The Dynamics of Knowledge Diversity and Economic Growth," Southern Economic Journal, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 77(4), pages 856-884, April.
    9. Martin Kalthaus, 2020. "Knowledge recombination along the technology life cycle," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 30(3), pages 643-704, July.
    10. Mori, Tomoya & Sakaguchi, Shosei, 2018. "Collaborative knowledge creation: Evidence from Japanese patent data," MPRA Paper 88716, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Jones, C.I., 2016. "The Facts of Economic Growth," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & Harald Uhlig (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 0, pages 3-69, Elsevier.
    12. Callaghan, Christian William, 2021. "Growth contributions of technological change: Is there a burden of knowledge effect?," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 172(C).
    13. Bruce A. Weinberg & David W. Galenson, 2019. "Creative Careers: The Life Cycles of Nobel Laureates in Economics," De Economist, Springer, vol. 167(3), pages 221-239, September.
    14. Cristiano Antonelli & Alessandra Colombelli, 2018. "The cost of knowledge," Chapters, in: The Evolutionary Complexity of Endogenous Innovation, chapter 6, pages 128-150, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    15. Nicolas Carayol, 2016. "The Right Job and the Job Right: Novelty, Impact and Journal Stratification in Science," Post-Print hal-02274661, HAL.
    16. W. Erwin Diewert & Kevin J. Fox, 2018. "A decomposition of US business sector TFP growth into technical progress and cost efficiency components," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 50(1), pages 71-84, October.
    17. Dolan, Paul & Metcalfe, Robert, 2012. "The relationship between innovation and subjective wellbeing," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(8), pages 1489-1498.
    18. Goldin, Ian & Koutroumpis, Pantelis & Lafond, François & Winkler, Julian, 2020. "Why is productivity slowing down?," MPRA Paper 99172, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    19. Shekhar Aiyar & Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Omer Moav, 2008. "Technological progress and regress in pre-industrial times," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 125-144, June.
    20. Ghiglino, Christian, 2012. "Random walk to innovation: Why productivity follows a power law," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 147(2), pages 713-737.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights
    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity
    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor
    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:92:y:2010:i:1:p:1-14. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://direct.mit.edu/journals .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Ann Olson (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://direct.mit.edu/journals .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.