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The Educated Underdog Becomes the Ultimate Superstar

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Abstract

We fi…nd an inverted relation between a player'’s birthday and the likelihood of receiving the Ballon d'’Or (awarded to the best football player in the world). We develop a multi-period skill formation model with selection into elite education. We show that those born late (underdogs) need to work harder to be selected for elite educational programs. However, those born too late will not make the cut-off. Those born late –– but not too late –– will thus end up with the highest skill levels as adults (educated underdogs). We use detailed data on the performance of elite Swedish football players to illustrate our model. These data provide strong support for the predictions of the model.

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  • Hjertstrand, Per & Norbäck, Pehr-Johan & Persson, lars, 2017. "The Educated Underdog Becomes the Ultimate Superstar," Working Paper Series 1176, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:iuiwop:1176
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    1. John R Doyle & Paul A Bottomley, 2018. "Relative age effect in elite soccer: More early-born players, but no better valued, and no paragon clubs or countries," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 13(2), pages 1-13, February.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Superstar; Skill formation; Expertise; Relative age effect; Football; Elite education;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • J70 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - General
    • M50 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - General
    • Z20 - Other Special Topics - - Sports Economics - - - General

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