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The Determinants of Base Pay and the Role of Race in Major League Soccer: Evidence from the 2007 League Season


  • Barry Reilly

    (University of Sussex)

  • Robert Witt

    (University of Surrey)


This paper examines pay determination in the labor market of a professional team sport hitherto neglected by researchers in the U.S. Using data on 361 Major League Soccer (MLS) players for one recent league season, mean and median regression models are exploited to investigate salary determinants. In comport with the available empirical evidence on racial pay discrimination in other professional team sports in the U.S., this study finds no overall evidence of pay disadvantage for non-white players. However, there is tentative evidence that black players who are not U.S. citizens actually fare worse than some other groups in salary terms.

Suggested Citation

  • Barry Reilly & Robert Witt, 2007. "The Determinants of Base Pay and the Role of Race in Major League Soccer: Evidence from the 2007 League Season," School of Economics Discussion Papers 1907, School of Economics, University of Surrey.
  • Handle: RePEc:sur:surrec:1907

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Claudio Lucifora & Rob Simmons, 2003. "Superstar Effects in Sport," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 4(1), pages 35-55, February.
    2. José Mata & José A. F. Machado, 2005. "Counterfactual decomposition of changes in wage distributions using quantile regression," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(4), pages 445-465.
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    Cited by:

    1. Alex Bryson & Bernd Frick & Rob Simmons, 2009. "The Returns to Scarce Talent: Footedness and Player Remuneration in European Soccer," CEP Discussion Papers dp0948, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    2. Frick, Bernd, 2012. "Die Entlohnung von Fußball-Profis: Ist die vielfach kritisierte 'Gehaltsexplosion' ökonomisch erklärbar?," Edition HWWI: Chapters,in: Sport und Sportgroßveranstaltungen in Europa - zwischen Zentralstaat und Regionen, pages 79-110 Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI).

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    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J44 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Professional Labor Markets and Occupations
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing

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