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How Fast Do Old Men Slow Down?


  • Ray C. Fair


This study uses data on men's track and field and road racing records by age to estimate the rate at which men slow down with age. For most of the running events (400 meters through the half marathon), the slowdown rate per year is estimated to be .80 percent between ages 35 and 51. At age 51 the rate begins to increase. It is 1.04 percent at age 60, 1.46 percent at age 75, and 2.01 percent at age 95. The slowdown rate is smaller for 100 meters. For the events longer than the half marathon, the rate is smaller through about age 60 and then larger after that. The slowdown rate is generally larger at all ages for the field events. Table 2 shows that the age-factors in Masters Age-Graded Tables are excessively variable and biased against older runners. Tables 3 and 5 present the age-factors implied by this study. These tables can be used to estimate one's projected time or distance by age. They can also be used by race officials for age-graded events. A brief comparison of the present results to results in the physiological literature is also presented in this paper. The main estimation technique used is a combination of the polynomialspline method and the frontier-function method. A number of the events have been pooled to provide more efficient estimates.

Suggested Citation

  • Ray C. Fair, 1991. "How Fast Do Old Men Slow Down?," NBER Working Papers 3757, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3757
    Note: AG

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Schmidt, Peter, 1976. "On the Statistical Estimation of Parametric Frontier Production Functions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 58(2), pages 238-239, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jan Ours, 2009. "Will You Still Need Me: When I’m 64?," De Economist, Springer, vol. 157(4), pages 441-460, December.
    2. Filippin, Antonio & van Ours, Jan C, 2012. "Run For Fun: Intrinsic Motivation and Physical Performance," CEPR Discussion Papers 8873, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Fair Ray C, 2008. "Estimated Age Effects in Baseball," Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, De Gruyter, vol. 4(1), pages 1-41, January.
    4. Benoit Dostie, 2011. "Wages, Productivity and Aging," De Economist, Springer, vol. 159(2), pages 139-158, June.
    5. Nieswiadomy Michael L. & Strazicich Mark C. & Clayton Stephen, 2012. "Was There a Structural Break in Barry Bonds's Bat?," Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, De Gruyter, vol. 8(3), pages 1-19, October.
    6. Ray Fair, 2004. "Estimated Age Effects in Athletic Events and Chess," Yale School of Management Working Papers amz2481, Yale School of Management, revised 01 Aug 2007.
    7. Börsch-Supan, Axel & Weiss, Matthias, 2016. "Productivity and age: Evidence from work teams at the assembly line," The Journal of the Economics of Ageing, Elsevier, vol. 7(C), pages 30-42.
    8. Chen, Yu-Fu & Zoeg, Gylfi, 2011. "Life-Cycle, Effort and Academic Inactivity," SIRE Discussion Papers 2011-27, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
    9. Yao, Rui & Sharpe, Deanna L. & Wang, Feifei, 2011. "Decomposing the age effect on risk tolerance," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 879-887.
    10. Sumit Agarwal & John C Driscoll & Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson, 2007. "The Age of Reason: Financial Decisions Over the Lifecycle," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000001752, UCLA Department of Economics.
    11. Paul Hek & Daniel Vuuren, 2011. "Are older workers overpaid? A literature review," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 18(4), pages 436-460, August.
    12. Rui Yao & Angela Curl, 2011. "Do Market Returns Influence Risk Tolerance? Evidence from Panel Data," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 32(3), pages 532-544, September.
    13. Ray C. Fair, 2004. "Estimated Age Effects in Athletic Events and Chess," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1495, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Feb 2006.
    14. Maennig Wolfgang & Stobernack Michael, 2011. "Do men slow down faster than women?," Review of Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 62(3), pages 263-278, December.
    15. Yu-Fu Chen & Gylfi Zoega, 2012. "Slowing Down," Dundee Discussion Papers in Economics 266, Economic Studies, University of Dundee.
    16. repec:bla:ecinqu:v:55:y:2017:i:2:p:1091-1103 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Mukesh Chawla & Gordon Betcherman & Arup Banerji, 2007. "From Red to Gray : The "Third Transition" of Aging Populations in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6741.

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    JEL classification:

    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination


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