XKCD on sports. Is there a way to test (in a quantitative manner) the hypothesis that baseball is the worst offender?
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|Derek Jeter, the exception that proves the rule.|
Using a sample of professional baseball players from 1871 - 2007, this paper aims at analyzing a longstanding empirical observation that married men earn significantly more than their single counterparts holding all else equal. There are numerous conflicting explanations, some of which reflect subtle sample selection problems (that is, men who tend to be successful in the workplace or have high potential wage growth also tend to be successful in attracting a spouse) and some of which are causal (that is, marriage does indeed increase productivity for men). Baseball is a unique case study because it has a long history of statistics collection and numerous direct measurements of productivity. Our results show that the marriage premium also holds for baseball players, where married players earn up to 20% more than those who are not married, even after controlling for selection. The results are generally robust only for players in the top third of the ability distribution and post 1975 when changes in the rules that govern wage contracts allowed for players to be valued closer to their true market price. Nonetheless, there do not appear to be clear differences in productivity between married and nonmarried players. We discuss possible reasons why employers may discriminate in favor of married men.