Usually, most countries have a good-spirited competition regarding their numbers of winners of Nobel Prizes. The United States has clearly led the pack with over 300. The United Kingdom and Germany hold more than 100 each, while France has just over than half that number and Russia slightly fewer. Sweden and Switzerland each hold more than 20, while Italy, Canada, Japan, and several other countries are not far behind.
If it takes a village to raise a child, then it might be said that it takes a country to raise winners of Nobel Prizes. The awards are often thought to confer honor not only on the individual winners, but also on their country of origin. This has not always been the case, however; Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn won the prize for literature, but his writing caused him to be exiled from the Soviet Union. The honor felt like more of a slap in the face to the now defunct USSR.
In evaluating the numbers, some are concerned that the US is losing its ground, particularly in the science fields over the last 15 years. American researchers won the most science awards during the 1960s. Though US citizens still earn slightly over 50% of those awarded in this field, this is a great deal fewer than in previous years.
Some feel that these awards represent a litmus test for a country's success in producing innovators and developers. They point to the decreasing number of Nobel Prizes to Americans as representative of the US falling behind in crucial development of sciences. Other suggest that these figures are not proof alone, however, and may merely mean that other countries are now catching up and building on scientific development. Britain and Japan are now second and third in science prizes in a measurement of the last 15 years.
Nobel Prizes might also be analyzed by gender or race, as opposed to country. In the last 10 to 15 years, it seems that there has been a very specific attempt to include women and races that have not been adequately represented. This is not always the case, but in in the future, there may be a more equally balanced grouping of winners. Much of this will be based on the economic and educational opportunities available in individual countries, for people of both genders and for those in developing countries of a particular race.