Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=995034
 


 



Mortality and the Baseball Hall of Fame: An Investigation into the Role of Status in Life Expectancy


David J. Becker


University of Alabama at Birmingham -- School of Public Health

Kenneth Y. Chay


University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Shailender Swaminathan


University of Alabama at Birmingham - School of Public Health


iHEA 2007 6th World Congress: Explorations in Health Economics Paper

Abstract:     
The role of social status in life expectancy is a burgeoning topic of interest in health research. Isolating the impact of "pure status" on longevity is empirically challenging as an individual's ranking within the social hierarchy is related to other SES measures (e.g. education, income) which are correlated with health. Previous work is based either on animal studies (e.g. Sapolksy's work on baboons) or studies of humans in unique non-experimental settings (e.g. British Civil Servants: Academy Awards and Nobel Prize winners).

We use the precise rules for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame to examine the impact of status attainment (or non-attainment) on life expectancy. The Baseball Hall of Fame provides a compelling context since the selection rule for induction by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) is perfectly observed - a BBWAA vote share of 75 percent or more. We explore whether this discontinuous rule for assigning status leads to differential exposure to stress depending on proximity to the cut-off.

We obtain BBWAA voting data from the Baseball Hall of Fame website (www.baseballhalloffame.org). For each player born prior to 1946 (n=597) we use complete voting histories to construct a series of variables used in our analysis. From membership lists on the Hall of Fame website we construct indicators denoting whether a player was inducted by the BBWAA or the Committee on Baseball Veterans. From two other websites (www.baseball-reference.com, www.baseball-almanac.com) we obtain player characteristics including exact dates of birth/death, height/weight, ethnicity and education. Finally, we categorize cause of death using obituaries found through Lexis-Nexis, and a book on the necrology of baseball players.

We estimate the impact of Hall of Fame induction and the number of narrow losses (vote share>50%) on life expectancy, controlling for each player's maximum vote share, the number of ballot appearances, and demographic characteristics. We use several parametric (Tobit MLE, Buckley-James) and non-parametric (Kaplan-Meier survivor analysis) methods to correct for right censoring in the life durations of players who are still alive.

The effect of induction on longevity depends both on the definition of the reference group and the ease of induction. BBWAA inductees do not live longer, on average, than players who were not inducted. However, they do live 10 percent longer than players who narrowly missed induction through the BBWAA. This results from the reduced life expectancies of players who narrowly missed induction relative to non-inductees with lower BBWAA vote shares. Life expectancy falls by 3 percent for each ballot with a vote share over 50 percent but below the 75 percent threshold required for induction. Hall of Fame induction through the Veteran's Committee increases life expectancy, with the largest effect among players who never received a BBWAA ballot share above 10 percent. The effect sizes of the Hall of Fame variables are much larger in magnitude than the effects of BMI, year of birth, and educational attainment (i.e., college matriculation).

Our results suggest that the anxiety induced by non-attainment or delayed attainment of status can lead to premature death - with heart attacks being the predominant cause of death - and that there are health benefits of status attained through 'luck' rather than through performance.

Keywords: social status, population health, censoring, regression discontinuity

JEL Classification: I12

working papers series


Not Available For Download

Date posted: July 7, 2007  

Suggested Citation

Becker, David J. and Chay, Kenneth Y. and Swaminathan, Shailender, Mortality and the Baseball Hall of Fame: An Investigation into the Role of Status in Life Expectancy. iHEA 2007 6th World Congress: Explorations in Health Economics Paper. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=995034

Contact Information

David James Becker (Contact Author)
University of Alabama at Birmingham -- School of Public Health ( email )
RPHB 330
1530 3rd Avenue S
Birmingham, AL 35294
United States
205/975-0532 (Phone)
205/934-3347 (Fax)
Kenneth Y. Chay
University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics ( email )
549 Evans Hall #3880
Berkeley, CA 94720-3880
United States
510-643-8596 (Phone)
510-642-0638 (Fax)
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Shailender Swaminathan
University of Alabama at Birmingham - School of Public Health ( email )
1665 University Blvd.
Birmingham, AL 35294
United States
Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 1,538

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo7 in 0.328 seconds