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BY 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access December 31, 2019

The Burden of Knowledge in Mathematics

  • Jan Brendel EMAIL logo and Sascha Schweitzer
From the journal Open Economics


We investigate how the potential burden of processing ever more knowledge has affected the careers and research output of researchers in mathematics over the past 64 years. We construct a panel dataset of 48.851 researchers who published in ten top-ranking journals in mathematics. For this population of researchers, we supplement the dataset with years of birth from public sources. Our results show a significant increase of the average age of researchers at their first publication in one of our top-ranking journals, of the number of references of single-author articles, and of the number of coauthors that contribute to an article. Our findings extend earlier empirical findings on patents, as well as on researchers in economics, and hint at a burden of knowledge pervading different areas of human development. Moreover, our results indicate that researchers develop strategies like the division of labor to deal with this burden.


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Received: 2019-04-30
Accepted: 2019-09-22
Published Online: 2019-12-31

© 2019 Jan Brendel et al., published by De Gruyter

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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