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 18: An economic analysis of the sudden influx of Korean female golfers into the LPGA

Young Hoon Lee, Ilhyeok Park, Joon-Ho Kang and Younghan Lee


The US Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tour was founded in 1950 and has since developed into one of the most popular golf events in the world. Its annual purse is the largest among women’s golf tours. Historically, most LPGA members have been American and, until 1980, 90 percent of total tournaments were won by American golfers. Since then, the LPGA Tour has been experiencing rapid globalization, especially in the 2000s. Female golfers from various countries have earned LPGA Tour cards and non-US golfers have now won more tournaments than US golfers. At first, the number of foreign golfers increased slowly, with most of them coming from Europe and Australia. In contrast, in the last decade, Asian women have flooded into the LPGA Tour. As a result, in 2010, approximately half of the top-10 golfers in most tournaments were Asian, and most of these were Korean. The influx of Korean golfers may signal a significant shift in the revenue structure of the LPGA, which is a critical concern for the LPGA’s business model. In particular, the success of Korean women in the LPGA has increased the proportion of its revenues that come from Korea. Since Se Ri Pak won her first championship at the McDonald’s LPGA Championship in 1998, every LPGA tournament has been televised live in Korea.

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