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Nepotism or Family Tradition?: A Study of NASCAR Drivers


  • Peter A. Groothuis
  • Jana D. Groothuis


Of the drivers who raced NASCAR cup series in 2005, 23 of 76 had family connections of either being a son, brother or father of current or former drivers. Given the family connections, some have suggested that the N in NASCAR stands for nepotism. The family tradition of career following, however, is not unique to NASCAR. We see this pattern in many careers such as business, law, politics, agriculture, medicine and entertainment. There are many reasons why children enter the same career as their parents. These include physical-capital transfer, human-capital transfer, brand-nameloyalty transfer, and nepotism. Using a panel data of career statistics for drivers from the last 30 years, we test to see which model best explains career following in NASCAR racing. Our results suggest that the N in NASCAR does not stand for nepotism. Sons, do not have longer careers than non family connected drivers, given the same level of performance. We do find, however, that fathers end their careers earlier than performance indicates when a son enters into cup competition. This could be due to a son’s ability to extend a brand name across generations. The extension of a brand name also occurs with second brothers who benefit from the first brother’s name and having longer careers than performance indicates. If nepotism exits, it occurs only with the second brothers.

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  • Peter A. Groothuis & Jana D. Groothuis, 2006. "Nepotism or Family Tradition?: A Study of NASCAR Drivers," Working Papers 06-11, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
  • Handle: RePEc:apl:wpaper:06-11

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    1. Gary S. Becker, 1962. "Investment in Human Capital: A Theoretical Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70, pages 1-9.
    2. Mark C. Berger & Dan A. Black, 1998. "The Duration Of Medicaid Spells: An Analysis Using Flow And Stock Samples," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(4), pages 667-675, November.
    3. Becker, Gary S., 1971. "The Economics of Discrimination," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 2, number 9780226041162, April.
    4. Bernard F. Lentz & David N. Laband, 1990. "Entrepreneurial Success and Occupational Inheritance among Proprietors," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 23(3), pages 563-579, August.
    5. Bernard F. Lentz & David N. Laband, 1989. "Why So Many Children of Doctors Become Doctors: Nepotism vs. Human Capital Transfers," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 24(3), pages 396-413.
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    Cited by:

    1. Craig A. Depken II & Peter A. Groothuis & Kurt W. Rotthoff, 2016. "Family Connections in Motorsports: The Case of Formula One," Working Papers 16-13, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
    2. Peter A. Groothuis & James Richard Hill, 2009. "Correcting for Survival Effects in Cross Section Wage Equations Using NBA Data," Working Papers 09-19, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
    3. Chen, Liwen & Gordanier, John & Ozturk, Orgul, 2016. "Following (Not Quite) in Your Father’s Footsteps: Task Followers and Labor Market Outcomes," MPRA Paper 76041, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Ponzo, Michela & Scoppa, Vincenzo, 2010. "The use of informal networks in Italy: Efficiency or favoritism?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 89-99, January.

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