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Productivity and Mobility in Academic Research: Evidence from Mathematicians

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

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.

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Paper provided by Toulouse School of Economics (TSE) in its series TSE Working Papers with number 12-307.

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Date of creation: Oct 2010
Date of revision: Mar 2013
Handle: RePEc:tse:wpaper:25833
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  1. Doran, Kirk & Borjas, George J., 2012. "The Collapse of the Soviet Union and the Productivity of American Mathematicians," Scholarly Articles 8160722, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
  2. Fabian Waldinger, 2009. "Peer Effects in Science - Evidence from the Dismissal of Scientists in Nazi Germany," CEP Discussion Papers dp0910, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  3. Ajay Agrawal & Avi Goldfarb, 2008. "Restructuring Research: Communication Costs and the Democratization of University Innovation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1578-90, September.
  4. David N. Laband & Robert D. Tollison, 2000. "Intellectual Collaboration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(3), pages 632-661, June.
  5. Ignacio Palacios-Huerta & Oscar Volij, 2002. "The Measurement of Intellectual Influence," Economic theory and game theory 015, Oscar Volij.
  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.
  7. Paul Oyer, 2006. "Initial Labor Market Conditions and Long-Term Outcomes for Economists," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(3), pages 143-160, Summer.
  8. J. Peter Neary & James A. Mirrlees & Jean Tirole, 2003. "Evaluating Economics Research in Europe: An Introduction," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(6), pages 1239-1249, December.
  9. Glenn Ellison, 2007. "Is Peer Review in Decline?," NBER Working Papers 13272, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. E. Han Kim & Adair Morse & Luigi Zingales, 2006. "Are Elite Universities Losing Their Competitive Edge?," NBER Working Papers 12245, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. 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 114-32, March.
  12. Benjamin Jones, 2010. "As Science Evolves, How Can Science Policy?," NBER Working Papers 16002, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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