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Consumer and employer discrimination in professional sports markets – New evidence from Major League Baseball

Wolfgang Maennig and Steffen Mueller

No 69, Working Papers from Chair for Economic Policy, University of Hamburg

Abstract: We investigate the relationship between consumer discrimination, racial matching strategies, and employer discrimination in Major League Baseball (MLB) from 1985 to 2016. To this end, we assess the extent to which both fan attendance and team performance respond to changes in teams’ and their local market areas’ racial compositions. We innovate by using a significantly enhanced data basis with individual player data that we derive from combining web scraping and using facial recognition techniques to identify player race and using County-level Census data instead of Metropolitan Statistical Area data. We find that fans in both MLB Leagues developed a taste for racial diversity in the late 1980s; since the 2000s, discrimination starts to increase again. However, this discrimination is not fully rationalizing the performance gap across athletes of different race and ethnicity; employer discrimination is not primarily driven by fans’ racial preferences.

Keywords: Consumer preferences; Discrimination; Race; Ethnicity; Facial recognition; Ticket sales (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C5 J1 Z2 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 70 pages
Date: 2021-12-07
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-big, nep-lab, nep-law, nep-spo and nep-ure
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc

Published in Hamburg Contemporary Economic Discussions, Issue 69, 2021

Downloads: (external link) First Version, 2021 (application/pdf)

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