nep-spo New Economics Papers
on Sports and Economics
Issue of 2015‒05‒09
one paper chosen by
João Carlos Correia Leitão
Universidade da Beira Interior

  1. The Effect of Individual Uncertainty on the Specificity of Human Capital: Empirical Evidence from Professional Soccer By Steffen Merkel; Sascha L. Schmidt; Benno Torgler

  1. By: Steffen Merkel; Sascha L. Schmidt; Benno Torgler
    Abstract: This study uses the case of professional soccer to investigate the determinants of human capital (HC) specificity. Inspired by labor market research, we formulate three hypotheses on how uncertainty about the usefulness of individuals’ (more productive) specific skills affects their investment in (more flexible) general skills. The empirical analysis is based on unique panel data on school grades, soccer evaluations, and the sociodemographic characteristics of 90 elite players from the youth academy of a German Bundesliga club. We find that senior and long-serving players, who are comparably certain that their (soccer) specific capital will be sufficient to ensure a lucrative professional contract, invest less in general HC at school. Expected soccer performance, in contrast, has a counterintuitive positive effect. Our results expand knowledge on the factors influencing HC specificity from the macro to the subject level and highlight practical implications for institutions that train gifted individuals.
    Keywords: Individual uncertainty; human capital; skill specificity; professional soccer; youth academy
    JEL: J24 I20 D81 D84 L83
    Date: 2015–04

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