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The Demand for Younger and Older Workers: Patterns From NFL Labor Markets

This study examines how worker productivity and risk factors affect the demand for younger and older workers modeled using concepts from labor economics. The two primary National Football League player labor markets—the draft process and veteran free agent market—provide rich empirical environments for testing hypotheses from the model. Clubs demonstrate greater demand for rookies by drafting them earlier and for veterans by signing them faster. Greater physical productivity enhances labor demand for all players, but risk factors exert a more severe labor market penalty for veterans, patterns consistent with theory and with previous research on the demand for risky workers and older workers.