The relative age effect in European elite soccer: A practical guide to Poisson regression modelling.

Published on Apr 3, 2019in PLOS ONE2.74
· DOI :10.1371/JOURNAL.PONE.0213988
John R. Doyle26
Estimated H-index: 26
(Cardiff University),
Paul Andrew Bottomley24
Estimated H-index: 24
(Cardiff University)
Many disciplines of scholarship are interested in the Relative Age Effect (RAE), whereby age-banding confers advantages on older members of the cohort over younger ones. Most research does not test this relationship in a manner consistent with theory (which requires a decline in frequency across the cohort year), instead resorting to non-parametric, non-directional approaches. In this article, the authors address this disconnect, provide an overview of the benefits associated with Poisson regression modelling, and two managerially useful measures for quantifying RAE bias, namely the Indices of Discrimination and Wastage. In a tutorial-like exposition, applications and extensions of this approach are illustrated using data on professional soccer players competing in the top two tiers of the “Big Five” European football leagues in the search to identify paragon clubs, leagues, and countries from which others may learn to mitigate this form of age-discrimination in the talent identification process. As with OLS regression, Poisson regression may include more than one independent variable. In this way we test competing explanations of RAE; control for unwanted sources of covariation; model interaction effects (that different clubs and countries may not all be subject to RAE to the same degree); and test for non-monotonic versions of RAE suggested in the literature.
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