Creative Careers: The Life Cycles of Nobel Laureates in Economics

27 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2006 Last revised: 7 Oct 2021

See all articles by Bruce A. Weinberg

Bruce A. Weinberg

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

David W. Galenson

University of Chicago - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: November 2005

Abstract

This paper studies life cycle creativity among Nobel laureate economists. We identify two distinct life cycles of scholarly creativity. Experimental innovators work inductively, accumulating knowledge from experience. Conceptual innovators work deductively, applying abstract principles. We find that conceptual innovators do their most important work earlier in their careers than experimental laureates. For instance, our estimates imply that the probability that the most conceptual laureate publishes his single best work peaks at age 25 compared to the mid-50s for the most experimental laureate. Thus while experience benefits experimental innovators, newness to a field benefits conceptual innovators.

Suggested Citation

Weinberg, Bruce A. and Galenson, David W., Creative Careers: The Life Cycles of Nobel Laureates in Economics (November 2005). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=851708

Bruce A. Weinberg (Contact Author)

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David W. Galenson

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