NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Late Bloomers in the Arts and Sciences: Answers and Questions

David Galenson

NBER Working Paper No. 15838
Issued in March 2010
NBER Program(s):   AG

Recent research has shown that all the arts have had important practitioners of two different types — conceptual innovators who make their greatest contributions early in their careers, and experimental innovators who produce their greatest work later in their lives. This contradicts a persistent but mistaken belief that artistic creativity has been dominated by the young. We do not yet have systematic studies of the relative importance of conceptual and experimental innovators in the sciences. But in the absence of such studies, it may be damaging for economic growth to continue to assume that innovations in science are made only by the young.

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