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Revisiting Gladwell’s Hockey Players: Influence of Relative Age Effects upon Earning the PhD

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We examine the influence of relative age effects (RAE) upon whether someone earns the PhD. Drawing on the 2010 Survey of Earned Doctorates, we find no significant influence of RAE. When controlling for discipline-specific variation, we also find no influence of RAE on the age of people earning the PhD and no influence on post-graduate salary. To the extent that earning the PhD is considered an outstanding achievement, our findings support the view that redshirting is unnecessary and costly. We estimate a relative salary loss due to redshirting of over $138,000 in lifetime earnings for individuals who earn the PhD.

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2013-09-01

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higher education; relative age effects; doctoral candidates; PhDs; post-graduate salary; Malcolm Gladwell; hockey players

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Required Publisher Statement: Published by the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute, ILR School, Cornell University.

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