Invisible Geniuses: Could the Knowledge Frontier Advance Faster?
- American Economic Review: Insights (Forthcoming)
A better understanding of the determinants of idea/knowledge production remains critical
for long-run growth. Towards this end, this paper establishes two results using data from the
International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO). First, individuals who excelled in teenage years
are especially capable of advancing the knowledge frontier. Second, such talented individuals
born in poorer countries are systematically less likely to engage in knowledge production.
IMO participants from low-income countries produce 34% fewer publications and 56% fewer
cites than equally talented rich-country counterparts. Policies to encourage talented youth to
pursue scientific careers–especially those from poorer countries–could advance the knowledge
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