Winning a Nobel Prize will still make you famous, but it used to make you richer

More than just precious metal.
More than just precious metal.
Image: Reuters/Berit Roald
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A Nobel Prize changes the lives of its winners. It brings fame, recognition, and a decent sum of money to put towards retirement.

Over the years, however, the sum given out with each prize has changed quite a bit. After adjusting for inflation, in dollar terms, the prize money given out this year (about $930,000) is just a little more than half that given for the 2008 prize.

The money for the prize, which was established in 1901, comes from the funds Alfred Nobel set aside in his will. Like any other invested fund, its value is affected by changes in global markets. That partly explains the fluctuations.

The Nobel fund began with 31 million Swedish krona in 1897 (about 2 billion in today’s krona). The value of the fund hit its peak in 1999, but has gone through a lot of ups and downs since.

The most recent valuation of the fund, however, puts it on a trend to reach that peak. Next year’s Nobel Prize winners may be able to look forward to a bump in their payout.