Sunday, November 17, 2013

Aging curves

In a previous post (for which I have received some understandable criticism) I claimed that most probably soccer player Leo Messi had already reached the peak of his aging curve in terms of professional performance. I extracted the idea from the book by Nate Silver "The Signal and the Noise". This book clarifies that aging curves are very noisy, and that there is a lot of variation around the average aging curve. It also argues correctly that different professionals have different aging curves: Olympic gymnasts peak in their teens; poets in their twenties; chess players in their thirties; applied economists in their forties... Since I turned 48 some days ago and I am an applied economist, I hope to be one of those that prove that variation is high. The location of the peak depends on physical and mental factors. Mental factors include psychological, cultural and social factors. I think that a lot of decline in academics can be explained by egos and people spending too much time on trying to keep old reputations and positions of power, rather than by capabilities. But I may be wrong. As economist Avinash Dixit once said, I think a good idea for professionals beyond the average peak is to try to behave always as if we were 23 years old. Actually, the best active economists I know are older than 60 and I don't think they have peaked. What do they have in common? They like to work hard, they are beyond vanity, and to be honest, they don't have a blog...

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