The Educated Underdog Becomes the Ultimate Superstar

IFN Working Paper No. 1176, 2017

48 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2017

See all articles by Per Hjertstrand

Per Hjertstrand

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)

Pehr-Johan Norbäck

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)

Lars Persson

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: June 25, 2017

Abstract

We find an inverted relation between a players birthday and the likelihood of receiving the Ballon dOr (awarded to the best football player in the world). We develop a multi-period skill formation model with selection into elite education. We show that those born late (underdogs) need to work harder to be selected for elite educational programs. However, those born too late will not make the cut-off. The Educated Underdog Becomes the Ultimate Superstar. Those born late but not too late will thus end up with the highest skill levels as adults (educated underdogs). We use detailed data on the performance of elite Swedish football players to illustrate our model. These data provide strong support for the predictions of the model.

Keywords: Superstar; Skill formation; Expertise; Relative age effect; Football; Elite education

JEL Classification: D10, I20, J70, M50, Z20

Suggested Citation

Hjertstrand, Per and Norbäck, Pehr-Johan and Persson, Lars, The Educated Underdog Becomes the Ultimate Superstar (June 25, 2017). IFN Working Paper No. 1176, 2017. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3004607 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3004607

Per Hjertstrand

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) ( email )

Box 55665
Grevgatan 34, 2nd floor
Stockholm, SE-102 15
Sweden

Pehr-Johan Norbäck

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) ( email )

Box 55665
Grevgatan 34, 2nd floor
Stockholm, SE-102 15
Sweden

Lars Persson (Contact Author)

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) ( email )

Box 55665
Grevgatan 34, 2nd floor
Stockholm, SE-102 15
Sweden

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

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