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Bankruptcy Rates among NFL Players with Short-Lived Income Spikes


  • Kyle Carlson
  • Joshua Kim
  • Annamaria Lusardi
  • Colin F. Camerer


We test for consumption smoothing using bankruptcy data on players in the National Football League (NFL), who typically earn several million dollars during an income spike that lasts a few years. The life-cycle hypothesis predicts that players should save substantially while playing and then have little risk of bankruptcy post-NFL. However, players in our sample begin to file for bankruptcy soon after they stop playing and continue filing at a high rate through at least the first 12 years of retirement. Players' total earnings and career lengths have surprisingly little effect on the risk of bankruptcy.

Suggested Citation

  • Kyle Carlson & Joshua Kim & Annamaria Lusardi & Colin F. Camerer, 2015. "Bankruptcy Rates among NFL Players with Short-Lived Income Spikes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(5), pages 381-384, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:105:y:2015:i:5:p:381-84
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.p20151038

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:jeeman:v:90:y:2018:i:c:p:181-216 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Li, Li & Mak, Eric & Pivovarova, Margarita, 2016. "Conspicuous Consumption and Within-Group Income Inequality," MPRA Paper 83338, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Brent, Daniel A. & Ward, Michael B., 2018. "Energy efficiency and financial literacy," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 181-216.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • J44 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Professional Labor Markets and Occupations
    • L83 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Sports; Gambling; Restaurants; Recreation; Tourism
    • Z22 - Other Special Topics - - Sports Economics - - - Labor Issues


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