Prizes for Basic Research -- Human Capital, Economic Might and the Shadow of History
This paper studies the impact of several factors on the geographical distribution of basic scientific research across countries and time, and explains the dynamics of the process that has resulted in the United States becoming the undisputed leader in basic research. Our study is based on the records of major scientific awards, and on data dealing with global economic and historical trends. We investigate the degree to which scale or threshold effects account for the number of major prizes (Nobel, Fields, Kyoto, Wolf) won by different countries. We constructed 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 a country?s share of prizes. Scale effects imply that the association between the GDP share of a country and its prize share can be logistic -- above a certain threshold, there is a take-off range, where the prize share increases at an accelerating rate relative to the GDP share of the country, until it reaches "maturity" stage. Our empirical research findings confirm the importance of lagged relative GDP in accounting for a country's prize shares, and the presence of a "winner-takes-all" scale effect benefiting the leader. We found that U.S. basic research take-off started during the 1920s, with this research being done in the United States by U.S. scholars, prior to the immigration of scientists after Hitler's rise to power in Germany (1932-33). This is consistent with the notion that World War II set in motion forces that did not start, but hastened, the U.S. take-off, triggering immigration that contributed to the speed and intensity of U.S. research dominance. Using more recent data, we also documented the growing importance of countries that used to be at the periphery of global research, but are now possibly advancing towards the take-off stage.
|Date of creation:||May 2006|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as 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.|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- 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.
- Paul A. David, .
"Path Dependence, its critics, and the quest for 'historical economics',"
00011, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
- Paul A.David, 2005. "Path dependence, its critics and the quest for ‘historical economics’," Economic History 0502003, EconWPA.
- Lucas, Robert Jr, 1976. "Econometric policy evaluation: A critique," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 19-46, January.
- 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.
- David E. Weinstein & Donald R. Davis, 2004. "Search for Multiple Equilibria in Urban Industrial Structure," Econometric Society 2004 North American Winter Meetings 639, Econometric Society.
- Donald R. Davis & David E. Weinstein, 2004. "A Search for Multiple Equilibria in Urban Industrial Structure," NBER Working Papers 10252, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- 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.
- 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.
- Paul Krugman, 1991. "History versus Expectations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 651-667.
- Rose, Andrew K, 2005.
"Size Really Doesn't Matter: In Search of a National Scale Effect,"
CEPR Discussion Papers
5350, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- 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.
- Andrew K. Rose, 2006. "Size Really Doesn't Matter: In Search of a National Scale Effect," NBER Working Papers 12191, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- 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, February.
- Benjamin F. Jones, 2005. "Age and Great Invention," NBER Working Papers 11359, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Gary S. Becker, 1975. "Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis, with Special Reference to Education, Second Edition," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck75-1.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12226. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.