Wealth and Status: Analyzing the Perceived Attractiveness of 2010 FIFA World Cup Players
Abstract (via Chi & Yang @ SSRN)
Dating back to Veblen (1899), theoretical and empirical studies about conspicuous consumption have largely stipulated associations between social status and income. This paper focuses on the supply of status and tests the underlying assumption by using a data on the attractiveness ratings for the World Cup 2010 athletes from the social networking website BeautifulPeople.com. Treating the data as a team-player panel, we find that the 32 country fixed effects are positively associated with GDP per capita, even after controlling for the team’s ex ante Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) rank, Gini coefficient, and number of internet users. Furthermore, there is no obvious correlation between each country’s GDP per capita and its FIFA rank, which suggests that income is related to these “status” fixed effects through some direct channel. In other words, there is indeed a link between a country’s social status and its economic development. We caution though that income is not an exclusive driver of status, as ability, age, game outcome and race also matter.