Invisible Geniuses: Could the Knowledge Frontier Advance Faster?

66 Pages Posted: 17 Dec 2018

See all articles by Ruchir Agarwal

Ruchir Agarwal

International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Patrick Gaule

University of Bath

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The advancement of the knowledge frontier is crucial for technological innovation and human progress. Using novel data from the setting of mathematics, this paper establishes two results. First, we document that individuals who demonstrate exceptional talent in their teenage years have an irreplaceable ability to create new ideas over their lifetime, suggesting that talent is a central ingredient for the production of knowledge. Second, such talented individuals born in low- or middle-income countries are systematically less likely to become knowledge producers. Our findings suggest that policies to encourage exceptionally-talented youth to pursue scientific careers - especially those from lower income countries - could accelerate the advancement of the knowledge frontier.

Keywords: talent, knowledge frontier, innovation, IMO, mathematics

JEL Classification: O31, J24, I25

Suggested Citation

Agarwal, Ruchir and Gaule, Patrick, Invisible Geniuses: Could the Knowledge Frontier Advance Faster?. IZA Discussion Paper No. 11977, Available at SSRN:

Ruchir Agarwal (Contact Author)

International Monetary Fund (IMF) ( email )

700 19th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20431
United States

Patrick Gaule

University of Bath ( email )

Claverton Down
Bath, BA2 7AY
United Kingdom

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