Journal Article

Are Nobel prizewinner getting older? Mathematical analysis of age and life span of the Nobel prizewinners, 1901-2003

Anisimov, V. N., Michalski, A. I.
Advances in Gerontology, 14–22 (2004)


Data on the distribution by the age of 647 Nobel prizewinner in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, economics and literature and time dynamics of the age during 1901–2003 are presented in the paper. The mean survival and the expected life span of the prizewinners was also calculated. The mean life span of the Nobelists in natural sciences steadily increases from the first to the fourth quartile of the 20th century. The rate of the prizewinners selected at the age of 61 and more years increases from the 23% at 1901–1925 to 53,1% at 1975–2003, whereas the rate of the winners selected before the age of 40 years decreases from 19% to 2,7% during the same period. Analysis of available data on the Nobel Prizes for chemistry or physiology or medicine has shown that the majority of the Prizes was awarded to researcher discovered his main results at the age of 31–40 (41,8% and 47,4%, correspondingly). The mean interval between a discovery and a selection for Nobel Prize in chemistry increases from 12,6 years in 1901–1925 o 23,7 years in 1975–2003, whereas corresponding parameters for prizewinners in physiology or medicine increases from to 16,9 to 20,1 years. The mean life span of deceased Nobelists is 77,8 years, varying from 76,0 years in chemists to 84,8 years in economists. The mean life span after the selection is 20,3 years (from 13,6 years in writers to 24,6 in physicists). The expected life span after the selection adjusted by the age and the year of the selection of the Nobelists in physics, chemistry, economics and literature in 1959–1999 failed to reveal any increase, whereas the life expectancy of the prizewinners in physiology or medicine is increased as compared with the male population of USA. Key words: Nobel prize, prizewinners’ age, life span
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.