They Can't All Be Stars: The Matthew Effect, Status Bias, and Status Persistence in NBA All-Star Voting

What is the role of Matthew effects and status bias in status persistence? A large literature demonstrates biased evaluations of performance due to status signals, which results in cumulative (dis-)advantage. Characteristics signaling higher status lead individuals to assess comparable performances more positively, which results in an accumulation of advantages and higher inequality that is not grounded in actual performance differences. We use data on player performance in the National Basketball Association (NBA) and yearly elections to the NBA All-Star game to investigate whether becoming an All-Star increases the likelihood of being re-elected to become an All-Star in the following year. We contribute to the literature on status bias as the precise measurement of actual performance allows us to separate the effects of All-Star Status on subsequent performance and biased evaluations by the voters. Crucially, the fact that the All-Star election takes place every year allows us to assess to which extent status bias leads to status persistence. Preliminary findings indicate strong status bias. This is partly mediated by performance differences after treatment, yet there is still a higher probability to become an All-Star for players who were elected in the previous year even after controlling for mediating performance differences.