Historical Perspectives on Sports Economics
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Historical Perspectives on Sports Economics

Lessons from the Field

Edited by John K. Wilson and Richard Pomfret

The sports sector, apart from being of economic significance in itself, is clearly one that many citizens share a great interest in. It is not mere results, but aspects such as history, statistics, interest in labour markets and finances that often spark people’s interest. Historical Perspectives on Sports Economics explores a variety of topics including mega-event analysis, sports governance, anthropometrics, gambling, industrial organisation, infrastructure development and racial issues. 
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Chapter 8: Baseball and life expectancy: evidence from linked historical data

Joseph Price, Sebastian Brown and Jacob Van Leeuwen


We construct a new dataset that links information on professional baseball players with genealogical information about their family members. Our sample includes 4,091 major league players born before 1940 along with 8,344 of their siblings. We find that MLB players live about 3 years longer than their siblings. In order to examine how much of this difference is due to a possible income effect, we also construct a sample of 6,134 minor league players (who never made it to the majors) and 9,245 of their siblings. We find an even larger gap for the minor league players with them living about 4.1 years longer than their siblings. The dataset that we’ve constructed provides a unique way to incorporate information from census and vital records to expand the types of measures that we have about professional athletes.

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