George Borjas, Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

"Prizes and Productivity: How Winning the Fields Medal Affects Scientific Output"

October 18, 2013 | 12:00pm - 1:30pm | Baker Library | Bloomberg Center 102 | Open to public


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ABSTRACT: Knowledge generation is key to economic growth, and scientific prizes are designed to encourage it. But how does winning a prestigious prize affect future output? We compare the productivity of Fields medalists (winners of the top mathematics prize) to that of similarly brilliant contenders. The two groups have similar publication rates until the award year, after which the winners' productivity declines. The medalists begin to "play the field." studying unfamiliar topics at the expense of writing papers. It appears that tournaments can have large post-prize effects on the effort allocation of knowledge producers.

BIO:  George J. Borjas is the Robert W. Scrivner Professor of Economics and Social Policy. He received his PhD in economics from Columbia. His teaching and research interests focus on the impact of government regulations on labor markets, with an emphasis on the economic impact of immigration. He is the author of Wage Policy in the Federal Bureaucracy; Friends or Strangers: The Impact of Immigrants on the U.S. Economy; Heaven's Door: Immigration Policy and the American Economy; and the textbook Labor Economics. He also edited Immigration and the Work Force; Issues in the Economics of Immigration; and Poverty, International Migration and Asylum. Prior to coming to the Kennedy School, Borjas was a Professor of Economics at the University of California, San Diego. He has been a consultant to various government agencies.