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What Life Experience Do Many U.S. Nobel Laureates Have in Common?

The United States has garnered almost three times as many Nobel Prizes as any other country, but that's not to say that it doesn't owe a great deal of debt to those other nations. More than 100 of the U.S.-based winners of the coveted prize were born outside of America and immigrated. That's a huge proportion of America's 375 Nobel laureates. In fact, as of 2019, immigrants to the United States have taken home more of the awards than people from any nation outside of America. In 2016, for example, the United States boasted six Nobel Prize winners in research fields. All of those winners were immigrants, many of whom work at U.S. universities.

American colleges and universities are often credited with bringing in talented and intelligent people from other nations who end up doing the valuable work that earns awards. For the record, the only American-born winner in 2016 was musical icon Bob Dylan, who took home the Nobel Prize in Literature.

A prized history:

  • Alfred Nobel, the man who invented dynamite, angered his family when he left his entire estate to fund the awards that bear his name.

  • The youngest Nobel Prize winner is Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, who was 17 when she earned the Peace Prize for her work to advance education for girls around the world.

  • As of 2019, two Nobel laureates have refused their awards: French author Jean-Paul Sartre and Vietnamese revolutionary Le Duc Tho.

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