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Does it pay to specialize? The story from the Gridiron

Research output: Working paper

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Abstract

In the field of personnel economics, there are few opportunities to convincingly test for salary returns to specialization as against versatility or multi-tasking. This paper performs such a test by modeling returns to performance measures associated with two different skills practiced by running backs in the National Football League. We find pronounced gains to specialization with substantial predicted differences in returns for alternative skills. Moreover, these differences vary across the salary distribution. In the top half of the salary distribution, especially, model simulations show that specialists in either particular skill generate higher marginal returns than versatile players.