PLoS One 2019 3;14(4):e0213916. Epub 2019 Apr 3.
Institute of Sociology, University of Wuppertal, Wuppertal, Germany.
Based on the entire population of Nobel laureates in science from 1901 to 2017, we show that North America's rise as global power in science started in the 1920s. Following a transition period (1940s to 1960s), its scientific hegemony was consolidated in the 1970s. Yet since the 2000s, North America's global leadership in science has come under pressure. In that time, its share of laureates across disciplines dropped, although it has retained its attractiveness as a destination for future laureates from Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. In addition, we find that North America has become apparently less effective since 2010 in transferring capacities for conducting ground-breaking research from one generation of scientists to another. Furthermore, both Europe and the Asia-Pacific region have similarly high shares of newcomer organizations with regard to where prize-winning work is conducted, indicating that these two regions are very active in the inter-organizational competition for scientific talent. Despite this competition, however, we find no support for the rise of a new global center of science.