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Perceived trade-off between education and sports career: evidence from professional football


  • Sascha L. Schmidt
  • Benno Torgler
  • Verena Jung


To explore the attitudes towards risky career choices of young people in highly competitive environments, we surveyed almost 1000 football players in the youth academies of German professional clubs (Bundesliga), who must generally decide early in their careers whether or not to risk quitting school to focus solely on a professional football career. Based on the survey responses, we empirically analysed which factors influence these youths’ tendencies to choose a high-risk career option over a lower risk one. Our results seem to indicate that such risk taking in competitive environments can be explained by potential benefits expected from this decision, as well as judgments about the likelihood of achieving the desired career. Risk attitudes towards career choices vary by differences in individuals’ estimates of the potential benefits and in particular, in their own assessments of the likelihood of success, which is an important driver of risk acceptance. We also found that opportunity cost considerations influence risk acceptance: the better the low-risk option, the less willing the individual to give it up for a high-risk alternative. In addition, both national origin and level of cultural integration play a role in attitudes towards risky career choices, with reductions in the latter increasing the risk premium of quitting school.

Suggested Citation

  • Sascha L. Schmidt & Benno Torgler & Verena Jung, 2017. "Perceived trade-off between education and sports career: evidence from professional football," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 49(29), pages 2829-2850, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:applec:v:49:y:2017:i:29:p:2829-2850
    DOI: 10.1080/00036846.2016.1248357

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    Cited by:

    1. Mark Kassis & Sascha L. Schmidt & Dominik Schreyer & Benno Torgler, 2017. "Who gets promoted? Personality factors leading to promotion in highly structured work environments: evidence from a German professional football club," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(17), pages 1222-1227, October.

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