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The Economics of Superstars: Wages in Sport - understanding using primary data the changes over the postwar period in sport for its foremost performers

Project Description

The work of Sherwin Rosen (1981) established a literature on the economics of superstars - an attempt to explain the very high premia top performers in a given field are able to attract. Rosen argued that both the vanishingly small supply of top talent and the size of the market explain the premia. Technology (television, internet), and labour market regulations (freedom of contract, salary caps), have changed dramatically over the post-war period, meaning that the market for today’s sports performers is very different to that just a few decades ago. This project attempts to understand using primary data the changes over this postwar period in sport for its foremost performers.

By and large, data on wage structures, particularly as structures dictating the pay for professional sportspeople have changed, are hard to come by. Sport inputs and outputs are highly measurable, explaining much of its attraction to economists, particularly those interested in labour markets and human capital.

This project will collect data from sporting archives (cricket and football primarily) on wages (wage books, rule books, team sheets, minute books, registration documents) for the postwar period, and merge this information with more publicly available information on sporting outcomes.

The archival data will be digitised, and analysed in order to understand more about labour market relations in sports leagues. In particular, decisions regarding employees, changes in pay structures, investment in human capital, and outcomes

Funding Notes

This project will be self funded by the student.

How good is research at University of Reading in Business and Management Studies?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 40.00

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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