, Volume 114, Issue 3, pp 1069–1086 | Cite as

Relation of early career performance and recognition to the probability of winning the Nobel Prize in economics

  • Ho F. Chan
  • Franklin G. MixonJr.
  • Benno Torgler


To explore the relation between early career performance or recognition and receiving the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, we compare winners of the John Bates Clark Medal, the most prestigious early career recognition for economists, with other successful scholars. The initial comparison combines JBCM winners with scholars published in leading economics journals, controlling for educational background (institution conferring the Ph.D.) and publication and citation success. We then narrow the comparison group down to those given relatively early recognition (based on age category) in the form of other major awards. Lastly, we compare the JBCM awardees with synthetic counterfactuals that best resemble their pre-award academic career performance. All three analyses provide strong support for the notion that winning the JBCM is related to receiving the Nobel Prize, the award of which is also correlated with early career performance success as measured by number of publications and citations.


Nobel Prize John Bates Clark Medal Awards Early recognition Career Citations Publications Counterfactuals Matching 


  1. Ashton, S. V., & Oppenheim, C. (1978). A method of predicting Nobel prizewinners in chemistry. Social Studies of Science, 8(3), 341–348. Scholar
  2. Chan, H. F., Frey, B. S., Gallus, J., & Torgler, B. (2014a). Academic honors and performance. Labour Economics, 31, 188–204. Scholar
  3. Chan, H. F., Gleeson, L., & Torgler, B. (2014b). Awards before and after the Nobel Prize: A Matthew effect and/or a ticket to one’s own funeral. Research Evaluation, 23, 210–220. Scholar
  4. Chan, H. F., Önder, A. S., & Torgler, B. (2015). Do Nobel laureates change their patterns of collaboration following prize reception? Scientometrics, 105, 2215–2235. Scholar
  5. Chan, H. F., Önder, A. S., & Torgler, B. (2016). The first cut is the deepest: Repeated interactions of coauthorship and academic productivity in Nobel laureate teams. Scientometrics, 106, 509–524. Scholar
  6. Chan, H. F., & Torgler, B. (2012). Econometric fellows and Nobel laureates in economics. Economics Bulletin, 32(3), 365–3377.Google Scholar
  7. Chan, H. F., & Torgler, B. (2015a). The implications of educational and methodological background for the career success of Nobel laureates: An investigation of major awards. Scientometrics, 102, 847–863. Scholar
  8. Chan, H. F., & Torgler, B. (2015b). Do great minds appear in batches? Scientometrics, 104, 475–488. Scholar
  9. Chong, T. T.-L., Choi, C., & Everard, B. (2012). Who will win the Nobel Prize? Economics Bulletin, 29(2), 1–10.Google Scholar
  10. Cole, J. R., & Cole, S. (1973). Social stratification in science. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  11. Cole, S., & Cole, J. R. (1967). Scientific output and recognition: A study in the operation of the reward system in science. American Sociological Review, 32(3), 377–390. Scholar
  12. Coupé, T. (2003). Revealed performances: Worldwide rankings of economists and economics departments, 1990–2000. Journal of the European Economic Association, 1(6), 1309–1345. Scholar
  13. Faria, J. R., Mixon, F. G., Jr., & Upadhyaya, K. P. (2016). Human capital, collegiality, and stardom in economics: Empirical analysis. Scientometrics, 106, 917–943. Scholar
  14. Frey, B. S., & Gallus, J. (2014). The power of awards. Economists’ Voice, 11, 1–5. Scholar
  15. Frey, B. S., & Neckermann, S. (2009). Abundant but neglected: Awards as incentives. Economists’ Voice, 6, 1–4. Scholar
  16. Garfield, E. (1970). Citation indexing for studying science. Nature, 227, 669–671. Scholar
  17. Garfield, E., & Malin, M. V. (1968). Can Nobel Prize winners be predicted? In 135th meetings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Dallas, TX.Google Scholar
  18. Gingras, Y., & Wallace, M. L. (2010). Why it has become more difficult to predict Nobel Prize winners: A bibliometric analysis of nominees and winners of the chemistry and physics prizes (1901–2007). Scientometrics, 82(2), 401–412. Scholar
  19. Greene, W. H. (2003). Econometric Analysis. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  20. Hamermesh, D. S., Johnson, G. E., & Weisbrod, B. A. (1982). Scholarship, citations and salaries: Economic rewards in economics. Southern Economic Journal, 49, 472–481. Scholar
  21. Hansen, W. L., Weisbrod, B. A., & Strauss, R. P. (1978). Modeling the earnings and research productivity of academic economists. Journal of Political Economy, 86, 729–741. Scholar
  22. Hollis, A. (2001). Co-authorship and the output of academic economists. Labour Economics, 8, 503–530. Scholar
  23. Inhaber, H., & Przednowek, K. (1976). Quality of research and the Nobel prizes. Social Studies of Science, 6(1), 33–50. Scholar
  24. Iwami, S., Mori, J., Sakata, I., & Kajikawa, Y. (2014). Detection method of emerging leading papers using time transition. Scientometrics, 101(2), 1515–1533. Scholar
  25. Johnston, D. W., Piatti, M., & Torgler, B. (2013). Citation success over time: Theory or empirics?”. Scientometrics, 95, 1023–1029. Scholar
  26. Kalaitzidakis, P., Mamuneas, T. P., & Stengos, T. (2003). Ranking of academic journals and institutions in economics. Journal of the European Economic Association, 1, 1346–1366. Scholar
  27. Kalaitzidakis, P., Mamuneas, T. P., & Stengos, T. (2011). An updated ranking of academic journals in economics. Canadian Journal of Economics, 44, 1525–1538. Scholar
  28. Koczy, L. A., & Strobel, M. (2010). The World Cup of economics journals: A ranking by a tournament method. Discussion paper MT-DP-2010/18, Institute of Economics, Hungary Academy of Science, Budapest.Google Scholar
  29. Kodrzycki, Y. K., & Yu, P. (2006). New approaches to ranking economics journals. The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis and Policy, 5, 24. Scholar
  30. Kosfeld, M., & Neckermann, S. (2011). Getting more work for nothing? Symbolic awards and worker performance. American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, 3, 86–99. Scholar
  31. Kosfeld, M., Neckermann, S., & Yang, X. (2016). The effects of financial and recognition incentives across work contexts: The role of meaning. Economic Inquiry, 55, 237–247. Scholar
  32. Leibowitz, S. J., & Palmer, J. P. (1984). Assessing the relative impacts of economics journals. Journal of Economic Literature, 22, 77–88.Google Scholar
  33. Levitt, S. D., & Neckermann, S. (2014). What field experiments have and have not taught us about managing workers. Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 30, 639–657. Scholar
  34. Lindsey, D. (1980). Production and citation measures in the sociology of science: The problem of multiple authorship. Social Studies of Science, 10, 145–162. Scholar
  35. Long, J. S., & McGinnis, R. (1982). On adjusting productivity measures for multiple authorship. Scientometrics, 4, 379–387. Scholar
  36. Mazloumian, A., Eon, Y.-H., Helbing, D., Lozano, S., & Fortunato, S. (2011). How citation boosts promote scientific paradigm shifts and Nobel prizes. PLoS ONE, 6, e18975. Scholar
  37. Merton, R. K. (1973). The sociology of science: Theoretical and empirical investigations. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  38. Mixon, F. G., Jr., & Upadhyaya, K. P. (2014). Eyes on the prize: Human capital and demographic elements of economics’ Nobel Prize and John Bates Clark medal. Briefing Notes in Economics, 24, 1–18.Google Scholar
  39. Neckermann, S., Cueni, R., & Frey, B. S. (2014). Awards at work. Labour Economics, 31, 2015–2017. Scholar
  40. Neckermann, S., & Frey, B. S. (2013). And the winner is? The motivating power of employee awards. Journal of Socio-Economics, 46, 66–77. Scholar
  41. Palacios-Huertas, I., & Volij, O. (2004). The measurement of intellectual influence. Econometrica, 72, 963–977. Scholar
  42. Rampel, C. (2009). Prize deflation. The New York Times January 4. http://economix.blogs. = 0.
  43. Ritzberger, K. (2008). A ranking of journals in economics and related fields. German Economic Review, 9, 402–430. Scholar
  44. Schlagberger, E. M., Bornmann, L., & Bauer, J. (2016). At what institutions did Nobel laureates do their prize-winning work? An analysis of biographical information on Nobel laureates from 1994 to 2014. Scientometrics, 109, 723–767. Scholar
  45. Shah, N. (2014). Handicapping the John Bates Clark medal. The Wall Street Journal
  46. Simon, H. (1996). Models of my life. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  47. Simonton, D. K. (1975). Sociocultural context of individual creativity: A transhistorical time-series analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 32, 1119–1133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Sutter, M., & Kocher, M. G. (2001). Tools for evaluating research output: Are citation-based rankings of economics journals stable? Evaluation Review, 25, 555–566. Scholar
  49. Van Dalen, H. P. (1999). The golden age of Nobel economists. The American Economist, 43, 19–35. Scholar
  50. Ye, S., Xing, R., Liu, J., & Xing, F. (2013). Bibliometric analysis of Nobelists’ awards and landmark papers in physiology or medicine during 1983–2012. Annals of Medicine, 45, 532–538. Scholar

Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ho F. Chan
    • 1
  • Franklin G. MixonJr.
    • 2
  • Benno Torgler
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Economics and FinanceQueensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Center for Economic EducationColumbus State UniversityColumbusUSA

Personalised recommendations