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Motivating long-term employment contracts: risk management in major league baseball

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  • Joel Maxcy

    (Department of Economics, SUNY-Cortland, Cortland, NY 13045, USA)

Abstract

Long-term employment contracts have typically been modeled as mechanisms whereby workers reduce the risk of lost income with a guaranteed long-term wage that is less than the expected spot wage. Examination of contract length among major league baseball players shows that long-term contracts for marginal players, those for whom it would seem most logical to desire this insurance, are rarely observed. Star players, whose income levels should enable them to purchase this sort of insurance from other sources, represent the majority of long-term contract holders. This paper presents a theoretical model showing that firms, when facing both market uncertainty and uncertainty about an employee's future productivity, have an incentive to reallocate risk with long-term labor contracts. In such cases, a long-term contract may be observed without a risk premium paid by the worker. The labor markets of professional sports represent this combination of market and productive uncertainty. Empirical results from major league baseball using a binary choice probit model, which corrects for sample selection bias, support the hypothesis that factors, which increase market uncertainty and reduce productive uncertainty, are consistent with the observation of long-term contracts. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Joel Maxcy, 2004. "Motivating long-term employment contracts: risk management in major league baseball," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(2), pages 109-120.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:mgtdec:v:25:y:2004:i:2:p:109-120
    DOI: 10.1002/mde.1112
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1002/mde.1112
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. George A. Akerlof, 1981. "Jobs as Dam Sites," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 48(1), pages 37-49.
    2. Scully, Gerald W, 1974. "Pay and Performance in Major League Baseball," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(6), pages 915-930, December.
    3. Joel G. Maxcy, 2002. "Rethinking Restrictions On Player Mobility In Major League Baseball," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 20(2), pages 145-159, April.
    4. Newbery, David M, 1989. "The Theory of Food Price Stabilisation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(398), pages 1065-1082, December.
    5. Kahn, Lawrence M, 1993. "Free Agency, Long-Term Contracts and Compensation in Major League Baseball: Estimates from Panel Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 75(1), pages 157-164, February.
    6. Paul M. Sommers & Noel Quinton, 1982. "Pay and Performance in Major League Baseball: The Case of the First Family of Free Agents," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 17(3), pages 426-436.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hsuan-Yu Lin & Chih-Hai Yang, 2016. "Uncertainty, specific investment, and contract duration: evidence from the MLB player market," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 50(3), pages 1009-1028, May.
    2. Egon Franck & Stephan Nüesch, 2012. "Talent And/Or Popularity: What Does It Take To Be A Superstar?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 50(1), pages 202-216, January.
    3. Egon Franck & Stephan Nüesch, 2005. "Talent, Past Consumption and/or Popularity - Are German Soccer Celebrities Rosen or Adler Stars?," Working Papers 0043, University of Zurich, Institute for Strategy and Business Economics (ISU), revised 2006.
    4. Rockerbie, Duane & Easton, Stephen, 2017. "Risk Diversification from Revenue Sharing in a Professional Sports League: Measuring Welfare Gains," MPRA Paper 77431, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Philippe Cyrenne, 2013. "Player Salaries, Player Mobility and the Invariance Principle: Evidence from the National Hockey League," Departmental Working Papers 2013-04, The University of Winnipeg, Department of Economics.
    6. repec:kap:atlecj:v:45:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11293-017-9545-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Jahn K. Hakes & Chad Turner, 2008. "Long-Term Contracts in Major League Baseball," Working Papers 0831, International Association of Sports Economists;North American Association of Sports Economists.

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