Do College Sports Enhance Future Earnings?

2006-08-15

     Do student athletes financially outperform their non-athlete counterparts after they graduate from college – or do the earnings of college athletes lag behind?

     According to Binghamton University researchers in a new study published in the Journal of Human Resources, both views are supported by data. Former athletes working in business, military or manual labor occupations fare better wage-wise than non-athletes in those occupations, the researchers found. However, former athletes who teach in high schools, and perhaps work as coaches, lag behind non-athletes.

     Study co-author Daniel J. Henderson, Ph.D., assistant professor of economics at Binghamton University, used data from the Cooperative Institutional Research Survey of college freshmen and included more than 4,200 males.  The participants were surveyed six years after their expected college graduation. The follow-up questionnaire asked about individuals’ post-college earnings, occupational choices, graduate degrees attained and athletic participation in college.

     Henderson and his co-authors found that a slightly higher percentage of athletes than non-athletes were in higher income brackets. Most athletes in business, the military and manual labor were better off wage-wise than non-athletes working in those fields, but not all athletes enjoyed a premium from sports participation.

     The survey further showed that former college athletes were more likely than non-athletes to select high school teaching as an occupation, even though they earned 8 percent less than nonathletes who chose high school teaching careers. The research also showed that a higher percentage of athletes than non-athletes had earned bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral or professional degrees by six years after they were expected to complete college. In addition, compared with non-athletes, athletes were more likely to attend a private institution, to report themselves to be more driven than non-athletes, and to have a goal to be financially well-off.

     The study results can be found in the Summer 2006 issue of the Journal of Human Resources, published by the University of Wisconsin Press.
 

Last Updated: 9/17/13