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Do Star Performers Produce More Stars? Peer Effects and Learning in Elite Teams


  • Casey Ichniowski
  • Anne Preston


This study investigates the professional soccer industry to ask whether the talent of an individual's co-workers helps explain differences in the rate of human capital accumulation on the job. Data tracking national soccer team performance and the professional leagues their members play for are particularly well suited for developing convincing non-experimental evidence about these kinds of peer effects. The empirical results consistently show that performance improves more after an individual has been a member of an elite team than when he has been a member of lower level teams. The conclusion is borne out by a rich set of complementary data on: national team performance, player-level performance, performance of foreign players who joined elite teams after an exogenous shift in the number of foreign players participating on top club teams, performance of players on national teams in the year just before and the year just after they join an elite club team, and experiences of several national team players obtained through personal interviews.

Suggested Citation

  • Casey Ichniowski & Anne Preston, 2014. "Do Star Performers Produce More Stars? Peer Effects and Learning in Elite Teams," NBER Working Papers 20478, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20478
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Esther Duflo & Pascaline Dupas & Michael Kremer, 2011. "Peer Effects, Teacher Incentives, and the Impact of Tracking: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation in Kenya," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 1739-1774, August.
    2. Will Dobbie & Roland G. Fryer Jr., 2014. "The Impact of Attending a School with High-Achieving Peers: Evidence from the New York City Exam Schools," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(3), pages 58-75, July.
    3. Armin Falk & Andrea Ichino, 2006. "Clean Evidence on Peer Effects," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(1), pages 39-58, January.
    4. Atila Abdulkadiroğlu & Joshua Angrist & Parag Pathak, 2014. "The Elite Illusion: Achievement Effects at Boston and New York Exam Schools," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 82(1), pages 137-196, January.
    5. Henrik Jacobsen Kleven & Camille Landais & Emmanuel Saez, 2013. "Taxation and International Migration of Superstars: Evidence from the European Football Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(5), pages 1892-1924, August.
    6. Bruce Sacerdote, 2001. "Peer Effects with Random Assignment: Results for Dartmouth Roommates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 681-704.
    7. Cristian Pop-Eleches & Miguel Urquiola, 2013. "Going to a Better School: Effects and Behavioral Responses," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(4), pages 1289-1324, June.
    8. Scott A. Imberman & Adriana D. Kugler & Bruce I. Sacerdote, 2012. "Katrina's Children: Evidence on the Structure of Peer Effects from Hurricane Evacuees," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(5), pages 2048-2082, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dimant, Eugen & Deutscher, Christian, 2014. "The Economics of Corruption in Sports – The Special Case of Doping," MPRA Paper 60566, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J0 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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