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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 16: International women’s soccer and gender inequality: revisited

Joshua Congdon-Hohman and Victor A. Matheson

Subjects: economics and finance, sports


While most research in sports economics has focused on the microeconomic aspects of sport, such as the demand for sports, market structure, the sports labor market, and competitive balance, a number of papers have examined the influence of macroeconomic factors, such as GDP, population, or political organization on international sporting achievement. There are several reasons to study the effect of macroeconomic variables on national sporting success beyond simple economic curiosity or as an exercise in forecasting. First, there may be important links between a nation’s sporting performance and the economic value of its sports industry. Every four years, for example, enrollment in gymnastics and figure skating classes boom in countries that have reached the Olympic podium in these sports. Similar effects likely occur in team sports, such as basketball or soccer. Second, since the factors that determine performance are largely economic, it may be possible to use sports success as a proxy for overall economic development. Prosperity may generate sporting success through superior sports infrastructure and athletes’ earnings. In addition, greater national income may promote individual sports participation by making leisure time more available. As in the rest of sports economics, studies of international sporting success have generally focused on men’s sports, particularly soccer. This chapter examines the factors that lead to success in women’s soccer. Women’s sports are relatively neglected in the literature, and the results for men do not necessarily generalize to women.

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