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Creative Careers: The Life Cycles of Nobel Laureates in Economics

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  • Bruce A. Weinberg
  • David W. Galenson

Abstract

This paper studies life cycle creativity among Nobel laureate economists. We identify two distinct life cycles of scholarly creativity. Experimental innovators work inductively, accumulating knowledge from experience. Conceptual innovators work deductively, applying abstract principles. We find that conceptual innovators do their most important work earlier in their careers than experimental laureates. For instance, our estimates imply that the probability that the most conceptual laureate publishes his single best work peaks at age 25 compared to the mid-50s for the most experimental laureate. Thus while experience benefits experimental innovators, newness to a field benefits conceptual innovators.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruce A. Weinberg & David W. Galenson, 2005. "Creative Careers: The Life Cycles of Nobel Laureates in Economics," NBER Working Papers 11799, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11799
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. The Economics of Nobel Laureates
      by UDADISI in UDADISI on 2012-10-19 03:10:00

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    1. repec:bla:ecinqu:v:55:y:2017:i:3:p:1308-1323 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Ufuk Akcigit & Murat Celik & Daron Acemoglu, 2014. "Young, Restless and Creative: Openness to Disruption and Creative Innovations," 2014 Meeting Papers 377, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Pedro Albarrán & Raquel Carrasco & Javier Ruiz-Castillo, 2017. "Are Migrants More Productive Than Stayers? Some Evidence From A Set Of Highly Productive Academic Economists," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 55(3), pages 1308-1323, July.
    4. Barthel, Jens, 2008. "Can age discrimination be justified with a lower productivity of older workers?," MPRA Paper 14682, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Joshua Aizenman & Ilan Noy, 2007. "Prizes for basic research: Human capital, economic might and the shadow of history," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 261-282, September.
    6. Weinberg, Bruce A., 2011. "Developing science: Scientific performance and brain drains in the developing world," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(1), pages 95-104, May.
    7. Laibson, David I. & Agarwal, Sumit & Driscoll, John C. & Gabaix, Xavier, 2009. "The Age of Reason: Financial Decisions over the Life-Cycle with Implications for Regulation," Scholarly Articles 4554335, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    8. Rosalind S Hunter, 2009. "The Elite Brain Drain," Working Papers id:2048, eSocialSciences.
    9. KRAPF, Matthias & SCHLÄPFER, Jörg, 2012. "How Nobel Laureates Would Perform In The Handelsblatt Ranking," Regional and Sectoral Economic Studies, Euro-American Association of Economic Development, vol. 12(3).
    10. Paul Oyer, 2006. "The Macro-Foundations of Microeconomics: Initial Labor Market Conditions and Long-Term Outcomes for Economists," NBER Working Papers 12157, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Börsch-Supan, Axel & Weiss, Matthias, 2016. "Productivity and age: Evidence from work teams at the assembly line," The Journal of the Economics of Ageing, Elsevier, vol. 7(C), pages 30-42.
    12. Bertacchini Enrico & Friel Martha, 2013. "Understanding creativity and innovation in industrial design: an historical and empirical assessment," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers 201311, University of Turin.
    13. Rablen, Matthew D. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2007. "Mortality and Immortality," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 785, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    14. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 2013. "Six Decades of Top Economics Publishing: Who and How?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 51(1), pages 162-172, March.
    15. Rablen, Matthew D. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2008. "Mortality and immortality: The Nobel Prize as an experiment into the effect of status upon longevity," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(6), pages 1462-1471, December.
    16. Benjamin Jones & E.J. Reedy & Bruce A. Weinberg, 2014. "Age and Scientific Genius," NBER Working Papers 19866, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Benjamin F. Jones, 2011. "As Science Evolves, How Can Science Policy?," NBER Chapters,in: Innovation Policy and the Economy, Volume 11, pages 103-131 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Liu, Gordon G. & Kwon, Ohyun & Xue, Xindong & Fleisher, Belton M., 2014. "How Much Does Social Status Matter to Health? Evidence from China's Academician Election," IZA Discussion Papers 8010, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    19. Bertoni, Marco & Brunello, Giorgio & Rocco, Lorenzo, 2015. "Selection and the age – productivity profile. Evidence from chess players," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 45-58.
    20. RosalindS. Hunter & Andrew J. Oswald & Bruce G. Charlton, 2009. "The Elite Brain Drain," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(538), pages 231-251, June.
    21. Sumit Agarwal & John C. Driscoll & Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson, 2009. "The Age of Reason: Financial Decisions over the Life Cycle and Implications for Regulation," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 40(2 (Fall)), pages 51-117.
    22. Baffes, John & Vamvakidis, Athanasios, 2011. "Are you too young for the Nobel Prize?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(10), pages 1345-1353.
    23. David W. Galenson, 2004. "One Hit Wonders: Why Some of the Most Important Works of Modern Art are Not by Important Artists," NBER Working Papers 10885, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General
    • B31 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought: Individuals - - - Individuals

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