The Educated Underdog Becomes the Ultimate Superstar
IFN Working Paper No. 1176, 2017
48 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2017
Date Written: June 25, 2017
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: Suggested Citation