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The Migrant Wage Premium in Professional Football: A Superstar Effect?


  • Alex Bryson,

    Principal Research Fellow, Corresponding author
    • Corresponding author: Alex Bryson Principal Research Fellow National Institute of Economic and Social Research 2 Dean Trench Street London SW1P3HE Tel: +442076541901 Mobile: +447969179755 Twitter: @AlexanderBryson

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  • Giambattista Rossi,

  • Rob Simmons

  • We thank Ray Barrell, Richard Dickens, Tatiana Fic, Jan Van Ours, Alan Manning, Michele Pellizzari, Steve Pischke, John Micklewright, participants at the 2012 Royal Economic Society (Cambridge), 2011 WEAI (San Diego) and WPEG (Sheffield) Conferences and seminar participants at Bocconi, CEP, the Institute of Education, NIESR, Sussex and Tilburg for useful comments.


Using panel data on professional footballers and their teams over a seven year period we find a substantial wage premium for migrants which persists within teams and is only partially accounted for by players' on-field labour productivity. We show that the differential partly reflects the superstar status of migrant workers. This superstar effect is apparent in migrant effects on team performance and crowd attendance.