Prizes and Productivity: How Winning the Fields Medal Affects Scientific Output
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.
The findings reported in this paper did not result from a for-pay consulting relationship. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
George J. Borjas & Kirk B. Doran, 2015. "Prizes and Productivity: How Winning the Fields Medal Affects Scientific Output," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 50(3), pages 728-758. citation courtesy of