The combined effects of age and seniority on research performance of full professors

Giovanni Abramo, Ciriaco Andrea D'Angelo, Gianluca Murgia

In this work we examine the relationship between research performance, age, and seniority in academic rank of full professors in the Italian academic system. Differently from a large part of the previous literature, our results generally show a negative monotonic relationship between age and research performance, in all the disciplines under analysis. We also highlight a positive relationship between seniority in rank and performance, occurring particularly in certain disciplines. While in Medicine, Biology and Chemistry this result could be explained by the "accumulative advantage" effect, in other disciplines, like Civil engineering and Pedagogy and Psychology, it could be due to the existence of a large performance differential between young and mature researchers, at the moment of the promotion to full professors. These results, witnessed both generally and at the level of the individual disciplines, offer useful insights for policy makers and academia administrators on the role of older professors.

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