I estimate shifts in life-cycle productivity and show that innovators have become especially unproductive at younger ages. Meanwhile, the later start to the career is not compensated for by increasing productivity beyond early middle age. I further show that the early life-cycle dynamics are closely related to variation in the age at Ph.D. and discuss a theory where accumulations of knowledge across generations lead innovators to seek more education over time. More generally, the results show that individual innnovators[sic] are productive over a narrowing span of their life cycle, a trend that reduces, other things equal, the aggregate output of innovators.I see three points where this trend could be slowed or reversed:
- Reduce the ramp-up time for innovators, i.e., improved educational systems. Peter Thiel gets it.
- Increase productivity during peak years.
- Extend the productive years into later life. Anti-aging research may help here.
Upcoming posts will address these points in more detail.