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

Author

Listed:
  • 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Ilan Noy & Joshua Aizenman, 2007. "Prizes for Basic Research -- Human Capital, Economic Might and the Shadow of History," Working Papers 200705, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hai:wpaper:200705
    as

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    File URL: http://www.economics.hawaii.edu/research/workingpapers/WP_07-5.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
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    3. Donald R. Davis & David E. Weinstein, 2008. "A Search For Multiple Equilibria In Urban Industrial Structure," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(1), pages 29-65.
    4. Paul Krugman, 1991. "History versus Expectations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 651-667.
    5. Rose, Andrew K., 2006. "Size really doesn't matter: In search of a national scale effect," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 482-507, December.
    6. 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.
    7. Benjamin F. Jones, 2005. "Age and Great Invention," NBER Working Papers 11359, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    9. Paul A. David, 2007. "Path Dependence, its Critics, and the Quest for ‘Historical Economics’," Chapters,in: The Evolution of Economic Institutions, chapter 7 Edward Elgar Publishing.
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    11. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dailami, Mansoor & Kurlat, Sergio & Lim, Jamus Jerome, 2012. "Bilateral M&A activity from the Global South," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 345-364.
    2. 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, June.
    3. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

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

    JEL classification:

    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • F21 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Investment; Long-Term Capital Movements
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights
    • N4 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation

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