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Frontier Knowledge and Scientific Production: Evidence from the Collapse of International Science

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Listed:
  • Alessandro Iaria
  • Carlo Schwarz
  • Fabian Waldinger

Abstract

We show that WWI and the subsequent boycott against Central scientists severely interrupted international scientific cooperation. After 1914, citations to recent research from abroad decreased and paper titles became less similar (evaluated by Latent Semantic Analysis), suggesting a reduction in international knowledge flows. Reduced international scientific cooperation led to a decline in the production of basic science and its application in new technology. Specifically, we compare productivity changes for scientists who relied on frontier research from abroad, to changes for scientists who relied on frontier research from home. After 1914, scientists who relied on frontier research from abroad published fewer papers in top scientific journals, produced less Nobel Prize-nominated research, introduced fewer novel scientific words, and introduced fewer novel words that appeared in the text of subsequent patent grants. The productivity of scientists who relied on top 1% research declined twice as much as the productivity of scientists who relied on top 3% research. Furthermore, highly prolific scientists experienced the starkest absolute productivity declines. This suggests that access to the very best research is key for scientific and technological progress.

Suggested Citation

  • Alessandro Iaria & Carlo Schwarz & Fabian Waldinger, 2017. "Frontier Knowledge and Scientific Production: Evidence from the Collapse of International Science," CEP Discussion Papers dp1506, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1506
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    Cited by:

    1. Gorodnichenko, Yuriy & Pham, Tho & Talavera, Oleksandr, 2019. "Conference Presentations and Academic Publishing," IZA Discussion Papers 12573, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Schnitzer, Monika & Watzinger, Martin, 2019. "Standing on the shoulders of science," CEPR Discussion Papers 13766, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    frontier knowledge; scientific production; international knowledge flows; WWI;

    JEL classification:

    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights
    • N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy
    • N4 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O5 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies
    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N40 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • J44 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Professional Labor Markets and Occupations
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions

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