Selection Bias in the National Hockey League: Relatively Younger Players Outperform Their Draft Slots

Posted: 18 Sep 2012

See all articles by Robert O. Deaner

Robert O. Deaner

Grand Valley State University - Department of Psychology

Aaron Lowen

Grand Valley State University - Department of Economics

Stephen Cobley

The University of Sydney

Date Written: September 18, 2012

Abstract

Relative age effects (RAEs) occur when those who are relatively older for their age group are more likely to succeed. RAEs occur reliably in some educational and athletic contexts, yet the causal mechanisms remain unclear. To test whether selection bias contributes to RAEs, we analyzed National Hockey League (NHL) drafts from 1980-2006. Compared to those born in the first quarter (i.e., January-March), those born in the fourth quarter were selected 43 draft slots later than their productivity warranted, and they were roughly twice as likely to reach career benchmarks, such as 400 games played or 200 points scored. This selection bias in drafting did not decrease over time, apparently continues to occur, and reduces the playing opportunities of relatively younger players. This bias is remarkable because it is exhibited by professional decision makers evaluating adults in a context where RAEs have been widely publicized. Thus, selection bias based on relative age may be pervasive.

Keywords: relative age, selection processes, talent identification, maturation, ice hockey

Suggested Citation

Deaner, Robert O. and Lowen, Aaron and Cobley, Stephen, Selection Bias in the National Hockey League: Relatively Younger Players Outperform Their Draft Slots (September 18, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2148627 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2148627

Robert O. Deaner (Contact Author)

Grand Valley State University - Department of Psychology ( email )

1 Campus Dr.
Allendale, MI 49401-9403
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.gvsu.edu/psychology/robert-deaner-16.htm

Aaron Lowen

Grand Valley State University - Department of Economics ( email )

478c DeVos Center
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
United States

Stephen Cobley

The University of Sydney ( email )

Sydney, NSW 2141
Australia

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