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What Does It Take to Become a Good Mathematician?

Author

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  • Dubois, Pierre
  • Rochet, Jean-Charles
  • Schlenker, Jean-Marc

Abstract

Using an exhaustive database on academic publications in mathematics, we study the patterns of productivity by world mathematicians over the period 1984-2006. We uncover some surprising facts, such as the absence of age related decline in productivity and the relative symmetry of international movements, rejecting the presumption of a massive ”brain drain” towards the U.S. Looking at the U.S. academic market in mathematics, we analyze the determinants of success by top departments. In conformity with recent studies in other fields, we find that selection effects are much stronger than local interaction effects: the best departments are most successful in hiring the most promising mathematicians, but not necessarily at stimulating positive externalities among them. Finally we analyze the impact of career choices by mathematicians: mobility almost always pays, but early specialization does not.

Suggested Citation

  • Dubois, Pierre & Rochet, Jean-Charles & Schlenker, Jean-Marc, 2010. "What Does It Take to Become a Good Mathematician?," TSE Working Papers 10-160, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
  • Handle: RePEc:tse:wpaper:22689
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kim, E. Han & Morse, Adair & Zingales, Luigi, 2009. "Are elite universities losing their competitive edge?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(3), pages 353-381, September.
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    3. Levin, Sharon G & Stephan, Paula E, 1991. "Research Productivity over the Life Cycle: Evidence for Academic Scientists," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 114-132, March.
    4. Fabian Waldinger, 2012. "Peer Effects in Science: Evidence from the Dismissal of Scientists in Nazi Germany," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(2), pages 838-861.
    5. Ignacio Palacios-Huerta & Oscar Volij, 2004. "The Measurement of Intellectual Influence," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(3), pages 963-977, May.
    6. Pierre-Philippe Combes & Laurent Linnemer, 2003. "Where are the Economists Who Publish? Publication Concentration and Rankings in Europe Based on Cumulative Publications," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(6), pages 1250-1308, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Damien Besancenot & Jean-Michel Courtault & Khaled El Dika, 2012. "Piecework versus merit pay: a mean field games approach to academic behavior," Revue d'économie politique, Dalloz, vol. 122(4), pages 547-563.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D85 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Network Formation
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • L31 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Nonprofit Institutions; NGOs; Social Entrepreneurship

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