Age and Scientific Genius

51 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2014 Last revised: 30 Sep 2014

See all articles by Benjamin F. Jones

Benjamin F. Jones

Northwestern University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

E. J. Reedy

University of Chicago - Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship

Bruce A. Weinberg

Ohio State University (OSU) - Economics; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: January 2014

Abstract

Great scientific output typically peaks in middle age. A classic literature has emphasized comparisons across fields in the age of peak performance. More recent work highlights large underlying variation in age and creativity patterns, where the average age of great scientific contributions has risen substantially since the early 20th Century and some scientists make pioneering contributions much earlier or later in their life-cycle than others. We review these literatures and show how the nexus between age and great scientific insight can inform the nature of creativity, the mechanisms of scientific progress, and the design of institutions that support scientists, while providing further insights about the implications of aging populations, education policies, and economic growth.

Suggested Citation

Jones, Benjamin F. and Reedy, E. J. and Weinberg, Bruce A., Age and Scientific Genius (January 2014). NBER Working Paper No. w19866. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2389203

Benjamin F. Jones (Contact Author)

Northwestern University ( email )

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E. J. Reedy

University of Chicago - Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship ( email )

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Bruce A. Weinberg

Ohio State University (OSU) - Economics ( email )

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Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

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Germany

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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