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Frontier knowledge and scientific production: evidence from the collapse of international science

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  • Iaria, Alessandro
  • Schwarz, Carlo
  • Waldinger, Fabian

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

  • Iaria, Alessandro & Schwarz, Carlo & Waldinger, Fabian, 2017. "Frontier knowledge and scientific production: evidence from the collapse of international science," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 86599, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:86599
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    Cited by:

    1. Michaël Bikard & Matt Marx, 2020. "Bridging Academia and Industry: How Geographic Hubs Connect University Science and Corporate Technology," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 66(8), pages 3425-3443, August.
    2. Jia, Ruixue & Nie, Huihua & Xiao, Wei, 2019. "Power and publications in Chinese academia," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(4), pages 792-805.
    3. Besley, Timothy & Fetzer, Thiemo & Mueller, Hannes, 2019. "Terror and Tourism: The Economic Consequences of Media Coverage," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 449, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    4. Jesús Peiró-Palomino & Andrés J. Picazo-Tadeo & Vicente Rios, 2020. "Social Progress Around the World: Measurement, Evolution and Convergence," Working Papers 2006, Department of Applied Economics II, Universidad de Valencia.
    5. Gorodnichenko, Yuriy & Pham, Tho & Talavera, Oleksandr, 2021. "Conference presentations and academic publishing," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 228-254.
    6. Keith Head & Yao Amber Li & Asier Minondo, 2019. "Geography, Ties, and Knowledge Flows: Evidence from Citations in Mathematics," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 101(4), pages 713-727, October.
    7. Jay Bhattacharya & Mikko Packalen, 2020. "Stagnation and Scientific Incentives," NBER Working Papers 26752, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Sequeira, Tiago Neves & Gil, Pedro Mazeda & Afonso, Oscar, 2018. "Endogenous growth and entropy," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 154(C), pages 100-120.
    9. Asier Minondo, 2020. "Who presents and where? An analysis of research seminars in US economics departments," Papers 2001.10561, arXiv.org, revised May 2020.
    10. March, Raymond J. & Geloso, Vincent, 2020. "Gordon Tullock meets Phineas Gage: The political economy of lobotomies in the United States," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(1).
    11. Daniel P. Gross & Bhaven N. Sampat, 2020. "Inventing the Endless Frontier: The Effects of the World War II Research Effort on Post-war Innovation," NBER Working Papers 27375, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Daniel P. Gross, 2019. "The Consequences of Invention Secrecy: Evidence from the USPTO Patent Secrecy Program in World War II," NBER Working Papers 25545, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Watzinger, Martin & Schnitzer, Monika, 2019. "Standing on the Shoulders of Science," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 215, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.
    14. Arts, Sam & Hou, Jianan & Gomez, Juan Carlos, 2021. "Natural language processing to identify the creation and impact of new technologies in patent text: Code, data, and new measures," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(2).
    15. Gram, Dennis & Karapanagiotis, Pantelis & Krzyzanowski, Jan & Liebald, Marius & Walz, Uwe, 2021. "An extensible model for historical financial data with an application to German company and stock market data," SAFE Working Paper Series 300, Leibniz Institute for Financial Research SAFE.
    16. Asier Minondo, 2020. "Comments are welcome," Papers 2001.08376, arXiv.org, revised Feb 2020.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    frontier knowledge; scientific production; international knowledge flows; WW1;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

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

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