Table of Contents

Handbook on the Economics of Women in Sports

Handbook on the Economics of Women in Sports

Elgar original reference

Edited by Eva Marikova Leeds and Michael A. Leeds

Women’s sports have received much less attention from economists than from other social scientists. This Handbook fills that gap with a comprehensive economic analysis of women’s sports. It also analyzes how the behavior and treatment of female athletes reflect broad economic forces.

Introduction: women, sports, and economics

Eva Marikova Leeds and Michael A. Leeds

Subjects: economics and finance, sports


The economics of sports has given rise to a rapidly growing literature. General-interest journals publish an increasing number of articles devoted to sports economics, and two journals (the Journal of Sports Economics and the International Journal of Sport Finance) are now devoted to the field. Edited volumes on the economics of sports in general or on the economics of specific sports (such as baseball or soccer) have also become increasingly popular (see, for example, Fizel et al., 1996; Andreff and Szymanski, 2007; Humphreys and Howard, 2008; and Kahane and Shmanske, 2011). It is therefore surprising that so little has been written about the economics of women in sports. From 2009 through 2011, the Journal of Sports Economics published 102 feature articles. Despite the openness of the editorial staff to topics outside the ‘big four’ of baseball, basketball, football, and hockey, none of these articles was specifically devoted to women and only seven focused even partly on women. Instead, the lack of attention reflects a surprising dearth of interest among economists in women’s sports. On one level, this lack of interest is surprising. An important reason for studying sports is that they provide a ‘laboratory’ in which to study larger socioeconomic issues (Kahn, 2000). Readily available data on performance and compensation allow researchers to analyze phenomena ranging from the incentive effects of salaries to racial and ethnic discrimination. Sports seem to be a natural vehicle to evaluate whether women behave differently from men or whether society treats women differently.