Are You Too Young for the Nobel Prize?

28 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2008 Last revised: 8 Sep 2011

See all articles by John Baffes

John Baffes

World Bank

Athanasios Vamvakidis

International Monetary Fund (IMF) - European Department

Date Written: September 18, 2008


If the contributions of a relatively young and a relatively old candidate are recognized as Nobel-worthy at the same time, will the older candidate receive the award earlier in view of his/her lower life expectancy? Estimates from an econometric model based on a panel dataset from 1901 to 2007 suggest an age premium associated with older candidates. Specifically, the results show that making the Nobel-worthy contribution a year later delays the Prize by about six months, while sharing the Nobel Prize reduces the age at which the candidate is awarded the Nobel by almost 2 years. The results also suggest that the Nobel committee rushed the Prize to older candidates during the first decade of the Nobel. Similarly, a positive and highly significant time trend may reflect the expanding pool of candidates (and hence older candidates) as the population and the number of educated people rises, and life expectancy increases. Networking seems to matter, with the Prize being accelerated by 7 months for each alive Laureate in the same institution (and field). Other factors such as gender and the country of the Nobel-worthy research do not have a noticeable impact.

Keywords: Nobel Prize, Nobel Laureates, Age Bias

JEL Classification: D02, D79, J24, Y80

Suggested Citation

Baffes, John and Vamvakidis, Athanasios, Are You Too Young for the Nobel Prize? (September 18, 2008). Available at SSRN: or

John Baffes (Contact Author)

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States


Athanasios Vamvakidis

International Monetary Fund (IMF) - European Department ( email )

700 19th Street NW
Washington, DC 20431
United States

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