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Ruchir Agarwal and Patrick Gaulé

scores are not - the causal effect of IMO medals may be informative about the causal effect of IMO performance more generally. The IMO medal allocation mechanism is a natural setting for a regression discontinuity (RD) design comparing those who just made the medal threshold (or threshold for a better medal) versus those who nearly missed it. The assignment variable here is the number of points scored which solely determines medal awards. Importantly, the number of points scored cannot be precisely manipulated by participants, and in any case the medal thresholds are

Ruchir Agarwal and Patrick Gaulé
The advancement of the knowledge frontier is crucial for technological innovation and human progress. Using novel data from the setting of mathematics, this paper establishes two results. First, we document that individuals who demonstrate exceptional talent in their teenage years have an irreplaceable ability to create new ideas over their lifetime, suggesting that talent is a central ingredient in the production of knowledge. Second, such talented individuals born in low- or middle-income countries are systematically less likely to become knowledge producers. Our findings suggest that policies to encourage exceptionally-talented youth to pursue scientific careers—especially those from lower income countries—could accelerate the advancement of the knowledge frontier.