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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.

Chapter 2: Participation in women’s sport in Australia

Ross Booth and Michael A. Leeds

Subjects: economics and finance, sports


The health and social benefits from regular participation in sport and physical recreation activity are well known. Only recently, however, have economists begun to analyze the motivations and constraints that determine an individual’s allocation of time to sport and exercise. For example, Humphreys and Ruseski (2009 and 2010) analyze the economics of physical activity in the United States and Canada, respectively, while Farrell and Shields (2002) do the same for England. Governments at all levels in Australia have become increasingly active in encouraging people to adopt physical activities as a regular part of their lifestyle. However, there has been little formal study of what factors govern individual choices involving physical activity. This chapter uses data compiled by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to motivate a simple model of how Australian men and women decide whether to undertake physical activity, and, if they do, how they choose which activity to pursue. The data, contained in the report ‘Women in Sport’ (ABS, 2009), detail the differences in how men and women allocate their time across a variety of physical activities and how these choices change over the life cycle. The survey population starts at age 15, and the survey defines a ‘sport participant’ as a person who physically undertakes the activity. Hence, individuals in non-playing roles, such as coaches or referees, are not regarded as participants. The survey also documents both why people choose to exercise or not to exercise.

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