Yesterday’s awarding of the Nobel Prize in economics to three MIT scientists was quite a regular affair in one regard: Out of the three laureates, only one was born in the U.S. while two more had come to the U.S. from abroad to live and work. Indian-born Abhijit Banerjee and French-born Esther Duflo received the prize together with their American-born colleague Michael Kremer.
Since 1969 (the year the economics prize was added), a majority share of Nobel Prizes in the science categories have gone to U.S. institutions. But the scientists carrying out the cutting-edge research there have for a long time come from all over the world. Out of the 277 laureates that were exclusively affiliated with U.S. institutions, 87 had been born abroad, according to the Nobel Prize Foundation website.
The trend is the same for other countries. Top UK institutions host just as many immigrants and foreign scientists, with 15 out of 44 laureates since 1969 having been born abroad. The biggest share of foreign laureates can be found in Switzerland (8 foreign-born laureates opposite 7 Swiss-born laureates). Here, top scientific research institutions like the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich attracted many foreign researchers.
Countries whose institutions made the top 10 without the help of any immigrant scientists are Japan, with 15 homegrown laureates, as well as Sweden (8 laureates).