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Creative Careers: The Life Cycles of Nobel Laureates in Economics

  • Bruce A. Weinberg
  • David W. Galenson

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.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w11799.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11799.

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Date of creation: Nov 2005
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11799
Note: LS
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  1. George J. Stigler, 1971. "The Theory of Economic Regulation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 2(1), pages 3-21, Spring.
  2. 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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