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Prizes and Productivity- How Winning the Fields Medal Affects Scientific Output

  • Kirk B. Doran

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of Notre Dame)

  • George J. Borjas

    (Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University)

Knowledge generation is key to economic growth, and scientific prizes are designed to encourage it. But how does winning a prestigious prize affect future output? We compare the productivity of Fields medalists (winners of the top mathematics prize) to that of similarly brilliant contenders. The two groups have similar publication rates until the award year, after which the winners’ productivity declines. The medalists begin to “play the field,” studying unfamiliar topics at the expense of writing papers. It appears that tournaments can have large post-prize effects on the effort allocation of knowledge producers.

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File URL: http://www3.nd.edu/~tjohns20/RePEc/deendus/wpaper/022_Fields.pdf
File Function: First version, 2013
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Paper provided by University of Notre Dame, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 022.

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Length: 47 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2013
Date of revision: Aug 2013
Handle: RePEc:nod:wpaper:022
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  1. Borjas, George J. & Doran, Kirk B., 2012. "The Collapse of the Soviet Union and the Productivity of American Mathematicians," Working Paper Series rwp12-004, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
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  8. Knoeber, Charles R & Thurman, Walter N, 1994. "Testing the Theory of Tournaments: An Empirical Analysis of Broiler Production," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(2), pages 155-79, April.
  9. Sherwin Rosen, 1985. "Prizes and Incentives in Elimination Tournaments," NBER Working Papers 1668, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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