Working Paper Series
The Educated Underdog Becomes the Ultimate Superstar
(), Pehr-Johan Norbäck
() and lars Persson
Abstract: We fi…nd an inverted relation between a player'’s birthday
and the likelihood of receiving the Ballon d'’Or (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. 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; (follow links to similar papers)
JEL-Codes: D10; I20; J70; M50; Z20; (follow links to similar papers)
47 pages, June 22, 2017
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