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Waldinger, Fabian (2012): Peer Effects in Science: Evidence from the Dismissal of Scientists in Nazi Germany. In: Review of Economic Studies, Vol. 79, No. 2: pp. 838-861

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This paper analyses peer effects among university scientists. Specifically, it investigates whether the quality and the number of peers affect the productivity of researchers in physics, chemistry, and mathematics. The usual endogeneity problems related to estimating peer effects are addressed by using the dismissal of scientists by the Nazi government in 1933 as a source of exogenous variation in the peer group of scientists staying in Germany. To investigate localized peer effects, I construct a new panel data set covering the universe of scientists at the German universities from 1925 to 1938 from historical sources. I find no evidence for peer effects at the local level. Even very high-quality scientists do not affect the productivity of their local peers.

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