International Labor Mobility and the National Basketball Association

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Book Chapter

Publication Date



This chapter investigates the unique properties of free mobility in highly selective labor markets as high-level sports leagues, and reviews the relevant theory and empirical findings from the immigration literature. It then examines what is known so far from empirical work on wages in the National Basketball Association (NBA), and whether global basketball is governed by comparative advantage. The empirical literature on wage and employment effects of immigration leans toward the position that immigration has few negative effects on either. NBA teams may essentially treat foreign players as lottery tickets, men whose potential is not well understood at the time of signing, because the estimates of their human capital are not as precise as those for American players, whose development has been observed for a long time. Furthermore, some further investigation of the effects of foreign players on the NBA labor market, and the directions for further research, are reported.



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