Handbook on the Economics of Women in Sports
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Handbook on the Economics of Women in Sports

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.
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Chapter 1: Women’s attendance at sports events

Sarah S. Montgomery and Michael D. Robinson


Attending sports events is a major leisure activity in the United States. A 2004 study by the Performing Arts Research Coalition (PARC) reports that, on average, respondents attend sporting events seven times per year, choosing roughly an equal number of amateur and professional events (PARC, 2004). This compares with four visits to the performing arts and 15 to movies, clubs, and popular concerts, combined. The study notes some stereotypical differences between men and women. Men are more likely to go to sports events and clubs, while women more often attend the performing arts and the movies. Although economists have not devoted much attention to the determinants of individual choices to attend sports, they have studied factors that affect decisions to attend the performing arts. One of the main findings of this research is that arts socialization and education are important determinants of attendance (Seaman, 2006). To fully enjoy the arts, one must have a certain level of understanding of the art form. We adapt this methodology to explore in some depth the impact of what we call ‘sports capital’ on sports attendance. Enjoying sports, like appreciating the performing arts, requires some understanding of the performance in question. We use sports participation (playing some kind of sport) as a crude measure of sports capital. Our results show that women and men who play sports are much more likely to attend sporting events.

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