Age and the Trying Out of New Ideas

46 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2015 Last revised: 30 Aug 2021

See all articles by Mikko Packalen

Mikko Packalen

University of Waterloo - Department of Economics

Jay Bhattacharya

Stanford University - Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: January 2015

Abstract

Older scientists are often seen as less open to new ideas than younger scientists. We put this assertion to an empirical test. Using a measure of new ideas derived from the text of nearly all biomedical scientific articles published since 1946, we compare the tendency of younger and older researchers to try out new ideas in their work. We find that papers published in biomedicine by younger researchers are more likely to build on new ideas. Collaboration with a more experienced researcher matters as well. Papers with a young first author and a more experienced last author are more likely to try out newer ideas than papers published by other team configurations. Given the crucial role that the trying out of new ideas plays in the advancement of science, our results buttress the importance of funding scientific work by young researchers.

Suggested Citation

Packalen, Mikko and Bhattacharya, Jayanta, Age and the Trying Out of New Ideas (January 2015). NBER Working Paper No. w20920, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2558972

Mikko Packalen (Contact Author)

University of Waterloo - Department of Economics ( email )

Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1
Canada

Jayanta Bhattacharya

Stanford University - Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research ( email )

Center for Health Policy
179 Encina Commons
Stanford, CA 94305-6019
United States
650-736-0404 (Phone)
650-723-1919 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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