Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Nobel Prize:The Great Intellectual Flight from the Old World to the New


         

1. INTRODUCTION:
The Nobel Prize has existed for 117 years. In that time, a total of 916 prizes have been awarded to individuals and organizations, with some receiving the Nobel Prize more than once. (See: Nobel Prize).

In this article I  examine the national, ethnic and gender  composition of the laureates. I examine TRENDS over time,  and I show how the allocation of  Nobel awards  reflects the history and the evolution of the world over the past 117 years. (See: Nobel Laureates).

This article is not an exercise in nationalism or chauvinism. To the contrary, you’ll see that there is probably no more international population on the planet than the  body of Nobel laureates. But to demonstrate this, it is necessary to identify each laureate’s background. This is the first objective of this article. A second, and related, objective is to demonstrate the changing composition of this population and to show that the trends over time   reflect the world’s geopolitical  and cultural evolution.

The single most important finding is this: From the 1920s onward, there has been an enormous outflow of brain power from Germanic and other parts of Europe to North America. This was largely caused by the rise of National Socialism and Fascism, and a huge proportion of the Nobel laureates who were  expatriates and refugees were Jewish.

Additionally, I trace the gradual diversification of the Nobel Prize from a largely Euro-centric phenomenon to a worldwide one, and I examine the evolving gender  distribution of awards.

Finally, I provide samples of illustrious individuals and organizations who have received Nobel prizes.

2. THE OVERALL DISTRIBUTION, AND TRENDS:

The most striking differences between the pre-  and post-World War Two eras are shown in table One:

                                 Table One:Comparison of Number of Nobel Prizes Awarded 
                                 Before and Since World War Two, by Country and by Region
                                                                       
Country or Area
1901-2017
Number
1901-2017
%
1901-1945
Number
1901-1945
%
1946-2017
Number
1946-2017
%
world
916

221

695

Germany
92
10%
44
20%
48
6.9%
Germany-Austro-Hungary
121
13%
57
26%
64
9%
United States
290
32%
29
13.1%
261
38%
North America
307
34%
30
13.5%
277
40%
Europe
446
49%
178
81%
268
38.5%
Japan
25
2.7%
0
0%
25
4%
Emerging World
64
7%
4
1.8%
59
8.5%
                                                           
Table One shows the sharp decline in Europe’s share of Nobel prizes - from 81% up to World War Two, to 38.5% of all awards since then.

Much of Europe’s dominance prior to World War Two was due to that of German-Austrian Europe.

Since World War Two, it has been North America, particularly the United States, which has dominated the Nobel Prize,  its share of awards  rising  from 13.5% to 40%.

Furthermore, there has been a five-fold increase in the percentage of prizes awarded to laureates of the  Emerging World - (Africa, Latin America and  Asia).

3. THE “ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-SIX:”

One  overwhelming factor accounts for most of the shift from a Germany-dominated world of science to one dominated by the United  States: From the 1930s onward, there occurred an immense brain drain from the former  to the latter. It is impossible to separate the evolution of the Nobel Prize from the flight of many dozens of  European intellectuals and scientists  from National Socialism and Fascism, and later from Communism.  These migrants were largely but not exclusively Jewish.  The US, of course, became the primary beneficiary of this  massive brain transfer.

I counted 126 people whom I call the “multinationals” - that is, people who migrated from their country of origin and who  have therefore a multiple national identity: 14% of the total number of Nobel laureates.
                                   
Of these 126 “multinationals:”

45 moved to a country OTHER than the United States
14 moved to America and were counted as Americans
67 moved to America but were NOT counted as Americans

Thus, by far the largest number of “multinationals” - 81 altogether -  are  “hyphenated Americans:” (German-Americans, Italian-Americans, Polish-Americans, etc.). However, I classified only 14  of these  as “American” Nobel laureates (for example Canadian-born Saul Bellow, 1976 Nobel Prize), and the remaining 67 as belonging to another nationality, generally their nationality at birth.

Classifying the national identities of the 126 multinationals was a bit of a challenge: What nationality does one assign to Einstein, who was German-born, lived in Switzerland and ended up in the US? Or Marie Curie, Polish-born but French throughout her scientific training and career?

I myself, while no Nobel laureate, can attest to the complexity of national identity, as I was born in Hungary, raised in France and in Holland, and ended up a US citizen. Such people  are truly world citizens, but unfortunately, such a legal status does not (yet) exist. In footnote 1, I explain how I assigned national identities to the 126 multinational Nobel laureates.

Out of the  list of 126  multinational laureates, 67 were “hyphenated Americans” whom I nevertheless did NOT classify as Americans. For example:

1. Albert Einstein,       1921 Nobel  - listed as German
2. Enrico Fermi,          1938 Nobel  -  listed as Italian
3. Wolfgang Pauli,      1945 Nobel  -  listed as Austrian
4. Eugene Wigner,      1963 Nobel  -  listed as Hungarian
5. Elie Wiesel,             1986 Nobel  -  listed as Romanian

Many of these 67  hyphenated-Americans could have plausibly been classified as American Nobel laureates. Had I done this with all 67 of them, the total number of American laureates would rise to 357 or 39% of the total number of awards, or 328 (= 47%)  since World War Two!

The remaining 45 multi-nationals who were NOT hyphenated-Americans were scientists and intellectuals who fled or migrated to other largely western democracies  such as the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, and  Canada.  For example:

1.Marie Curie,Two times Nobel laureate! 1905 and 1911  - Polish-French
2. Albert Schweitzer,            1952 Nobel                 -            French-German           
3.Friedrich von Hayek,         1974 Nobel                 -           Austrian-British
4. Mother Theresa,               1979 Nobel                  -           Albanian-Indian
5. V. S. Naipaul,                   2001 Nobel                  -           Trinidad-British

What ALL 126 multi-nationals have in common is that they migrated from their country of birth to another country.

I then addressed the following three questions:

1.  Which laureates were REFUGEES, in other words FLED for their survival, and which ones were merely emigrants, or what I call “EXPATRIATES”?
2. What were these multinationals’ countries of ORIGIN?
3. What were their DESTINATION countries?

Question #1: How many of the multinationals were refugees, and how many were just emigrants?

33 were refugees
93 were  expatriates, in other words emigrants but  not refugees.

Question #2: What were the countries from which the multinationals were fleeing, or just emigrating?

                                                                     Table Two:
                           Country of Origin of the 33 Nobel Laureates Who Were Refugees
                                                                                   
National Origins of Refugees
Number
%
Germany
9
27%
Russia
8
24%
Italy
4
12%
Poland
4
12%
Austria
3
10%
Hungary
3
10%
Bulgaria
1
3%
Romania
1
3%
Total
33
100%

                                                                     Table Three:
                                Country of Origin of All 126  Multinational Nobel Laureates.

National Origins of all 126 Multinational Nobel Laureates
Number
%
Germany
22
17.5%
Russia
12
10%
Austria                                                                                               
10
8%
United Kingdom
8
6%
Poland
7
5.5%
Canada
7
5.5%
Australia                                                                                                                     
6
5%
China
5
4%
Italy
5
4%
 New Zealand, Holland, S. Africa, Japan, India, Hungary each 3
18
2% each
Luxembourg, Croatia, Czech Rep., Turkey, Israel, each 2
10
1.5% each
Ukraine, Switz., Spain, Norway, US., Albania, Venezuela, Lithuania, France, Egypt, Trinidad, Cyprus, Sweden, Ireland, Bulgaria, Romania each 1
16
           
.9% each
Total
126
100%

What Tables Two and Three show is that the great losers are Germany, the former  Austro-Hungarian Empire,  the former Soviet Union and Fascist Italy: Altogether, these countries account for 68 of the multinationals, or 54%.
                                   
Question #3: What were the multinationals’ destination countries?

As mentioned earlier, of the 126 multinational laureates, 81 moved to America and 45 moved to other countries.
                       
                                                                    Table Four:
                          Country of Destinaton  of 33 Nobel Laureates who were Refugees.

Countries                                                                                                                                
Number
%
USA
24
73%
United Kingdom
3
9%
Germany
2
6%
France, Belgium, Canada and Israel, 1 each
4
3% each
Total
33
100%

As Table Four indicates, the vast majority (73%) of the Nobel laureates who were refugees went to the United States. Of the 24 refugees who moved to America,   18 were Jews escaping the Holocaust, 5 were escaping communism, and 1 fled  for another reason.

                                                                     Table Five:
                          Country of Destinaton  of All 126 Multinational Nobel Laureates

Countries
Refugees
Other
Total number
%
United States
24
57
81
64%
United Kingdom
3
16
19
15%
France
1
4
5
4%
Switzerland
0
4
4
3%
Canada
1
2
3
2.3%
Australia
0
3
3
2.3%
Israel
1
1
2
1.6%
Austria
0
2
2
1.65
Germany
2
0
2
1.6%
Belgium
1
0
1
.8%
Hungary, Sweden, Japan, India
0           
1 each
1
.8%
Total
33
93
126


The largest single  contingent of  multi-nationals consists of Jews fleeing  Nazism, in other words fleeing primarily from Germany and  Austria.  In addition, there were also non-Jews fleeing Nazism, and there were refugees fleeing  Fascism from elsewhere (e.g. Italy, as in the case of Enrico Fermi, whose wife was Jewish). Finally, there were also laureates fleeing  from Communism and other forms of totalitarianism.

America was the primary beneficiary of this gigantic brain drain. So were, to a lesser extent,  the United Kingdom, France and some other countries. What a gift! This is what gave the US unmatched scientific and industrial supremacy. This is what enabled America  to be the first to develop nuclear weapons, to win  World War Two and to win the space race. Had Germany kept its (Jewish) scientists such as Einstein, it might have won the war. Both that country and the Soviet Union could have won the space race, had America not benefitted from the brain transfer  - which, incidentally, also included non-Jewish emigrés and Nazi sympathizers such as Werner von Braun.

t is difficult to think of a more imbecilic move than government’s current efforts to impede immigration into the United States. Nothing has benefitted this country more than the free flow of immigration, and nothing will weaken the country more than limiting that flow. Contrary to the erroneous belief that immigrants are a burden, in truth   they are the greatest source of strength, vitality, scientific progress and future wealth. Without immigrants, America would not have Google and  Apple; it would have nothing.

As to the huge Jewish presence on these lists: I did not systematically jot down whether any  laureate was Jewish or not, but I have a hunch that half of these Nobel laureates were. I will not dwell on a subject which could be  “radioactive” (“why are there so many geniuses among Jews ?”)   Suffice it to say  that  Jewish culture has, like no other culture,  emphasized education for five  thousand years.

4. OTHER TRENDS                                                                                                             

I then asked  three additional questions:

4. Did the share of awards going to  Russia -  transformed into the Soviet Union -  rise  after World War Two?
5. Did the Nobel Prize become less Euro-centric over time?
6. Has the share awarded to women increased?

Question #4: Did Russia/the Soviet Union gain an increasing number of Nobel Prizes?

            Through the end of  World War Two, Russia garnered 3 awards (1.4% of the total). Since then, it has received 22 awards (3.3%). Thus, Russia has more than doubled its share, even though that share remains relatively low.

Question #5: Has the Nobel Prize become less Euro-centric?

                                                                         Table Six:
       Comparison of Number of Nobel Prizes Awarded Before and Since World War Two, by Region

Region
1901-2017
Number
1901-2017
%
1901-1945
Number
1901-1045
%
1946-2017
Number
1946-2017
%
World:  64 countries + International Organizations
916
100%
221
100%
695
100%
Europe: 29 countries
446
49%
178
81%
268
38.5%
North America: 2 countries
307
34%
30
13.5%
277
40%
Japan
25
2.7%
0
0%
25
4%
Russia
25
2.7%
3
1.5%
22
3.2%
Australia
6
.7%
1
.5%
5
.7%
Israel
11
1.2%
0
0%
11
1.6%
Emerging World : 29 countries
64
7%
4
1.8%
60
8.6%
International Organizations
22
2.4%
4
1.8%
18
2.6%
China
6
.7%
0
0%
6
.9%
Africa
20
2.2%
0
0%
20
2.9%
Latin America: 7 countries
16
1.7%
2
.9%
14
2%
South Asia, incl. India
9
1%
2
.9%
7
1%
Middle East: 4 countries
5
.5%
0
0%
5
.7%     
                                               
Table Six shows the steep decline of Europe’s share: from 81% prior to World War Two to 38% since then.

Conversely, North America’s share has tripled, from 13.5% to 40%.

As we saw in Table One, the European dominance in the past was largely a German-Austro-Hungarian dominance.  One might conjecture that - in addition to Germanic science’s  objective excellence - the Nobel organization might have been  temperamentally more attuned to Germanic culture. After all, Nobel is a Scandinavian institution.

Be that as it may, Table Six shows that the Nobel organization has made an effort and strides to diversify the awards. The share of awards going to emerging countries has quintupled. Africa and Latin America have gained fairly significantly.  If this has caused the Nobel organization to politicize its decisions to some extent, in an effort to nudge the world into a more accepting  and peaceful direction, that’s fine.

The shares of China, India and the Middle East remain mediocre. Of course, Japan’s scientific and economic rise is a well-known story.

Question #6: Has the share awarded to women increased?

                                                                      Table Seven:
                    Has the Number of Nobel Prizes Awarded to Women Increased over Time?
                                                                                                           
Epoch
Number of Awards to Women
Percentage of total     
1901-2017
46 out of 916
5%                  
1901-1945
10 out of 221
4.5%
1946-2017
36 out of 695
5.2%
21st century
17 out of 204
8.3%

Table Seven reveals that the percentage  of awards granted to women after World War Two was not significantly greater than prior to World War Two. However, during the 21st century, the proportion finally began to rise. It is now nearly double the rate prior to World War Two.

Here are a few of  the most eminent female laureates:

1903 and 1911: Marie Curie (Poland/France)
1909: Selma Lagerlof (Sweden)
1931: Jane Addams (US)
1935: Irene Curie (Marie’s Daughter) (France)
1938: Pearl Buck (US)
1979: Mother Teresa (Albania)
1982: Alva Myrdal (Sweden)
1993: Toni Morrison(US)

Here is a list of some additional eminent laureates who have not yet been  mentioned in this article:

1901: Wilhelm Röntgen (Germany)
1904:Ivan Pavlov (Russia)
1907: Rudyard Kipling (Britain)
1909: Guglielmo Marconi (Italy)
1918: Max Planck (Germany)
1920: Knut Hamsun (Norway)
1922: Niels Bohr (Denmark)
1923: William Butler Yeats (Ireland)
1925: George Bernard Shaw (Britain)
1927: Henri Bergson (France)
1929: Thomas Mann (Germany)
1930:Sinclair Lewis (US)
1936) Eugene O’Neill (US)
1946: Herman Hesse (Germany)
1947: André Gide (France)
1947: T. S. Eliot (US)
1949: William Faulkner (US)
1950: Bertrand Russell (Britain)
1954: Linus Pauling (US)
1954:Ernest Hemingway (US)
1956: William Shockley (US)
1957:Albert Camus (France)
1962: John Steinbeck (US)
1964: Martin Luther King (US)
19969: Samuel Beckett (Ireland)
1970: Alexander Solzhenitsyn (Russia)
1997: Robert Merton (US)
2008: Paul Krugman (US)
2016: Bob Dylan (US)

...Also, Heads of States and other statesmen:

US Presidents:
1906:Theodore . Roosevelt
1919: Woodrow Wilson
2002: Jimmy Carter
2009: Barack Obama             

Other Statesmen:
1926 Aristide Briand (France)
1926: Gustav Stresemann (Germany)
1950: Ralph Bunche (US)
1953: Winston Churchill (Britain)
1953: George Marshall (US)
1961: Dag Hammarskjöld (Sweden)
1971: Willy Brandt (Germany)
1973 Henry Kissinger (US)
1978; Anwar Sadat (Egypt)
1978: Menachem Begin (Israel)
1983: Lech Walesa (Poland)
1984: Desmond Tutu (South Africa)
1989: Dalai Lama (Tibet)
1990: Mikhail Gorbachev (Russia)
1991: Aung San Suu Kyi (Myanmar)
1993: Nelson Mandela (South Africa)
1993: F. W. De Klerk (South Africa)
1994: Yasser Arafat (Palestine)
1994: Shimon Peres (Israel)
1994: Yitzhak Rabin (Israel)
2000: Kim Dae-jung (South Korea)
2001: Kofi Annan (Ghana)
2007 Al Gore  (US)
                       
And finally, some of the major international organizations that received the Nobel, in most cases the Peace Prize:

1917, 1944, 1963: International Red Cross
1954, 1981: UN Refugees High Commissioner
1963: League of Red Cross and Red Crescent
1965: UNICEF 
1977: Amnesty International
1985: Int’l physicians against Nuclear War
1988: UN Peace-Keeping Forces
1999: Medecins Sans Frontières (France)
2001: United  Nations
2012: The European Union

5. CONCLUSION:               
Thus, the central theme in the history of the Nobel prize has been a massive “brain transfer” from Europe to America.
Prior to World War Two, the epicenter of scientific and cultural achievement, as expressed  by the percentage of Nobel laureates, was Europe, especially Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Since then, it has been North America, particularly the  United States. The main reason for this was the great stream of Jewish and other refugees fleeing Nazism, plus the migration of other intellectuals. Thus, Germany and other European countries were the great losers, and America has been the prime beneficiary of this migratory talent, as a result of its open-door policy towards refugees and other immigrants.

This indicates  that the  present administration’s move    to impede  immigration is short-sighted. Far from being costly and burdensome,  immigration’s net effect to the United States has been beneficial. It has been the country’s greatest source of strength, vitality, scientific progress and future wealth. It is because of this brain drain from (largely Germanic) Europe that the US was first to develop nuclear technology, and  won World War Two and the space race. Had Germany kept all its (Jewish and other)  scientists (such as Albert  Einstein), it might have won the war.

The Nobel Prize has become much more diverse in other ways as well:  Prior to World War Two, the overwhelming percentage of awards were granted to Europeans, whereas since then the emerging world’s share has increased fivefold. Also, the percentage of female laureates in the 21st century is nearly double what it was prior to World War Two.

Footnote 1:
The national identities  of the 126 “multinational” Nobel laureates  were determined as follows:
1. First, I followed the encyclopedia’s national identification.
2.  Second, when this was not possible, I used what I call the “Einstein model:” Einstein was born in Germany, he lived in Switzerland, and he migrated to the US. In view of his background, his professional and university training and where he spent his formative years, I classified him as a German. This is the logic which I used in the majority of cases.
3. When a laureate was largely trained in the  country TO which he or she migrated, I tended to assign her that country’s nationality. For example, I classified Marie Curie as French.
4.  In addition, I wanted some small countries such as Luxembourg and Croatia to be represented, so in a few cases, I arbitrarily chose that nationality, when it was one of a laureate’s multiple nationalities.
5.  Some laureates’ national identities were compelling, as they were iconic figures in a national context. For example, I classified  Saul Below as an American, even though he was born in Canada. 
6. Laureates who were mere infants when they left their country of birth were often NOT classified as belonging to their nationality of birth.                     
7. Laureates listed as Scottish, Welsh and  from Ulster were classified as British.

© Tom Kando 2018;All Rights Reserved