National Football League players have a strange earnings pattern. They make a ton of money up until the age of 30 or so, then have much lower income for the rest of their lives—the opposite of most workers. A player who makes it through six years in the NFL earns more than a typical college graduate does in a lifetime. But they go bankrupt more often, and more quickly, once they retire.
Researchers from the California Institute of Technology, the University of Washington, and George Washington University took a look at all NFL players drafted from 1996 to 2003, from their entry to the league up to their first 12 years after retirement, to find out more about when those bankruptcies occur.
Here, from their new National Bureau of Economic Research working paper, is the researchers’ model of a median NFL player income profile: