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Olympic Economics: 20 Papers on Economics and the Olympic Games

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 04:24:00 GMT

To complement the collection of papers I put together in 2010 on the FIFA World Cup, here's a first pass at collecting research on the upcoming Olympics.

A Cost-Benefit Analysis of an Olympic Games (2006)

Darren McHugh

This paper attempts to estimate the net benefit to Canada of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games. Two particular classes of problems in Olympic CBA are studied in detail. The first is the unique nature of project dependency in an Olympic Games, and this is surmounted by the classification of Olympic-related costs and benefits as "Event-related" or "Infrastructure-related", with rules for handing each in the context of a CBA for an Olympic Games. The second is the estimation of net benefit of three types of "Olympic Outputs", namely the Olympic Spectacle, the Olympic Halo (the feelings of pride engendered in the residents of the host city), and the tourism induced by an Olympic Games. One key result of the paper is that a correct accounting of induced Olympic tourism shows that the net benefit of this tourism is substantially less than its widely touted "economic impact". Although a detailed estimation of infrastructure costs and benefits is outside the scope of the paper, their contribution to the net benefit of the Games under the proposed project accounting rules is clearly negative. The net benefit of the Olympic Games is therefore also substantially negative when the estimates of Olympic benefits from this paper are combined with published estimates for event costs.

The Impact of the London Olympics Announcement on Property Prices (2009)

Georgios Kavetsos

This study estimates the impact of London’s successful 2012 Summer Olympics bid on property prices. Using a self-constructed dataset of a sample of property transactions, we estimate a semi-logarithmic hedonic model for Greater London. Applying a difference-in-differences estimator, we find that properties in the host boroughs are sold between 2.1 and 3.3 percent higher, depending on the definition of the impact area. A similar investigation based on radius rings suggests that properties up to three miles away from the main Olympic stadium sell for 5 percent higher. The impact on host boroughs leads to an estimated overall property price increase of £1.4 billion, having substantial social and financial implications for existing residents.

Economics and Olympics: An Efficiency Analysis (2007)

Alexander Rathke and Ulrich Woitek

Applying stochastic frontier analysis, we estimate the importance of sports in society as technical efficiency of countries in the production of Olympic success since the 1950s. Our measures of success are medal shares and a broader concept including Olympic diplomas. Following Bernard and Busse (2004), population and GDP are used as inputs. While the impact of GDP is always positive, we show that the sign of the population effect depends on wealth and population size of a country. The results show that the spread of importance is very wide over time, across countries, gender, and sports. These differences can be seen as caused by differences in financial support, training methods, organization, or culture. Using the method proposed by Battese and Coelli (1995), we confirm the result well documented in the literature that planned economies and host countries are more successful than others in terms of Olympic success (e.g. Bernard and Busse, 2004). The method allows to shed light on important aspects of recent sport history, such as the consequences of the breakdown of the former Soviet Union.

Quantifying the ‘Un-quantifiable’: Valuing the Intangible Impacts of Hosting the Summer Olympic Games (pdf, 2005)

Giles Atkinson and Susana Mourato

The Summer Olympic Games, it is argued, is a significant cultural good as well as a popular sporting spectacle; it provides the impetus for environmental and economic improvements in the host city, gives a boost to national pride and so on. This paper examines whether there is an economic basis for such claims. To date, attempts to quantify the benefits of hosting major sporting events have focused exclusively on tangible gains; those benefits associated with a clearly identifiable cash-flow. The evidence suggests that genuinely additional tangible nbenefits tend to fall short of corresponding measures of cost. Therefore, using a contingent nvaluation survey, we test the proposition that the size of the intangible (net) benefits of the London 2012 Bid might justify staging the event on cost-benefit grounds. Respondents, drawn from London, Manchester and Glasgow, were asked for their willingness to pay (WTP) to host the 2012 Olympic Games in London on the basis of the intangible impacts that this event might provide. A number of interesting issues characterise this application of the CV method.

Should Cities Go for the Gold? The Long-Term Impacts of Hosting the Olympics (2010)

Stephen B. Billings and James Scott Holladay

The Summer Olympics bring hundreds of thousands of visitors and generate upwards of $10 billion in spending for the host city. This large in influx of tourism dollars is only part of the overall impact of hosting the Olympic games. In order to host the visitors and sporting events, cities must make sizable investments in infrastructure such as airports, arenas and highways. Additionally, the publicity and international exposure of a host city may benefit international trade and capital flows. Proponents argue that this investment will pay off through increased economic growth, but research conforming these claims is lacking. This paper examines whether or not hosting an Olympiad improves a city's long-term growth. In order to control for the self-selection of cities that host Olympic games, this paper matches Olympic host cities with cities that were finalists for the Olympic games, but were not selected by the International Olympic Committee. A difference-in-difference estimator examines post Olympic impacts for host cities between 1950 and 2005. Regression results provide no long-term impacts of hosting an Olympics on two measures of population, real GDP per capita and trade openness.

Mega-Events and Sectoral Employment: The Case of the 1996 Olympic Games (2010)

Arne Feddersen and Wolfgang Maennig

This paper contributes to the analysis of large sporting events using highly disaggregated data. We use the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, which are also outstanding as one of the very few large sporting events where ex post academic analysis found significant positive effects. This paper extends earlier studies in several ways. First, monthly rather than quarterly data will be employed. Second, the impact of the 1996 Olympics will be analyzed for 16 different sectors or subsectors. Third, in addition to standard DD models, we use a non-parametric approach to flexibly isolate employment effects. Regarding the Olympic effect, hardly any evidence for a persistent shift in the aftermath of or the preparation for the Olympic Games is supported. We find a significant positive employment effect in the monthly employment statistics exclusively during the staging of the Olympic Games (July 1996). These short-term effects are concentrated in the sectors of 'retail trade', 'accommodation and food services', and 'arts, entertainment, and recreation', while other sectors showed no such effects.

Sources about the likely economic impact of the Olympics 2012 on London (pdf)

The potential economic impact of hosting the Olympics is very newsworthy, and receives a lot of attention in the press and other media at a local, national and international level. The current economic downturn has placed the issue in even greater focus, as pressure on government spending, and jobs, intensifies. But perhaps it's all too easy to get carried away by the tide of headlines and soundbites and lose sight of the underlying evidence. This article looks at what is meant by economic impact, how much London 2012 is costing, and draws together a range of sources you can explore which give different views about the likely economic impact on London and the UK more widely. It is intended as an introduction to some of the issues which will stimulate you to explore further. It has been written by Sally Halper, Lead Content Specialist for Business & Management at the British Library, in March 2009.

Economic Aspects and the Summer Olympics: a Review of Related Research (pdf, 2003)

Evangelia Kasimati

As the Summer Olympics are growing with larger media coverage and sponsorship, host cities have started to attach great importance to the tourism and other likely economic effects that occur by staging such a special event. As a result, a number of studies have been conducted to consider the various economic implications on the hosts. This paper examines and evaluates methods and assumptions used by the economic studies. It also compares ex-ante models and forecasts with the ex-post approach. The aim is to improve the information available to policy makers and potential future hosts of Summer Olympics and other megaevents.

The economic impact of the Olympic Games (pdf, 2004)


The Olympic Games is an event of such magnitude that it can potentially have a significant economic impact on the host city and, for the smaller countries, on the host nation as a whole. While the actual event may last for only a few weeks, preparations commence up to a decade beforehand and may entail considerable investment expenditures that can have longer term economic significance. With the Athens 2004 Olympics only weeks away, this article identifies the economic effects of hosting the Games, reviews the experience of past host cities, and reviews the outlook for the Greek economy in the light of the likely impact of the Athens Games.

The Economic Impact of theLondon 2012 Olympics (pdf, 2005)

Adam Blake

On 6 July 2005 the International Olympic Committee awarded the right to stagethe 2012 summer Olympic and Paralympic Games to London. The decision tobid for the Games is a politically contentious one, with many arguments thatsupport the benefits that such “mega events” bring and many arguments thathighlight the detrimental effects that they can incur. This political decision isfurther complicated by the existence of groups in society that benefit from thehosting of such events and other groups that lose out because of them; andbecause of pressure groups that exist on both sides of this argument. Thispaper examines the economic benefits and costs of hosting the Olympics, inparallel with other studies that have estimated other social and environmentalcosts and benefits. The objective is to use the most appropriate form of methodology to examine the net economic consequences of hosting the Gamesfor both the UK as a whole and for London. The net benefits are found to bepositive, and large relative to the investment in the bidding process, althoughsmaller than previous studies that have tended to examine gross effects

The Olympic Effect (2009)

Andrew K. Rose and Mark M. Spiegel

Economists are skeptical about the economic benefits of hosting "mega-events" such as the Olympic Games or the World Cup, since such activities have considerable cost and seem to yield few tangible benefits. These doubts are rarely shared by policy-makers and the population, who are typically quite enthusiastic about such spectacles. In this paper, we reconcile these positions by examining the economic impact of hosting mega-events like the Olympics; we focus on trade. Using a variety of trade models, we show that hosting a mega-event like the Olympics has a positive impact on national exports. This effect is statistically robust, permanent, and large; trade is around 30% higher for countries that have hosted the Olympics. Interestingly however, we also find that unsuccessful bids to host the Olympics have a similar positive impact on exports. We conclude that the Olympic effect on trade is attributable to the signal a country sends when bidding to host the games, rather than the act of actually holding a mega-event. We develop a political economy model that formalizes this idea, and derives the conditions under which a signal like this is used by countries wishing to liberalize.

A Golden Opportunity for Global Acceptance? How Hosting the Olympic Games Impacts a Nation's Economy and Intellectual Property Rights with a Focus on the Right of Publicity (2008)

Jeffrey F. Levine

This Comment briefly explores the economic affects of hosting the Olympic Games and how Western intellectual property law impacts the legal systems of developing nations seeking to host Olympic Games. Specifically, the Comment addresses the massive financial burdens a host nation incurs in order to potentially reap the intangible benefits as an Olympic Host and explores the benefits and burdens China may incur in hosting the upcoming Beijing Olympiad. After examing the economic issues, the Comment analyzes potential intellectual property law issues, focusing on the right of publicity in an Olympic context. Afterward, the author suggests methods by which China can provide Olympic participants protection of their likeness through an international comparative analysis.

The Value of Olympic Sponsorships: Who is Capturing the Gold? (1997)

W. Scott Frame and Kathleen A. Farrell

In recent years, corporate sponsorship has become an increasingly important element of the marketing communications mix. This paper uses data from the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympic Games to measure the value of Olympic sponsorship. Using stock return data, we find that the shareholders of sponsoring firms earn negative average abnormal returns around announcement of Olympic sponsorship agreements. This finding, consistent with an agency cost explanation of corporate investment practices, is robust to variation in a number of firm- and sponsorship-specific variables. In addition, cross-sectional analysis supports the monitoring hypothesis, as significant equity ownership by institutional investors is positively related to abnormal returns around announcement. Our results suggest that utilizing Olympic sponsorships in the marketing communications mix may not be value-enhancing.

The 2008 Beijing Olympic Sponsorships: Value for Money? (2010)

Alexander Molchanov, Philip A. Stork and Victor Zeng

Sports-related event sponsoring has rapidly grown into a key ingredient of the marketing communications mix. We use event study methodology to assess the net economic value of 2008 Beijing Olympic Games sponsorships. We find that investors judge the benefits that accrue to sponsoring companies to be commensurate with the expenses, as evidenced by insignificant announcement date abnormal returns. Furthermore, on the Games opening ceremony date the domestic sponsors’ share prices fall significantly while the international sponsors on average experience positive returns. The domestic firms’ sponsorship decision may have been based on national pride and emotional commitment, rather than on profit maximization.

Ambush Marketing: Dissecting the Discourse (2011)

Brian Pelanda

This article discusses the problematic discourse in which scholars and corporate complainants such as the International Olympic Committee have discussed the issue of ambush marketing. It argues that those who persistently complain about ambush marketing have wielded the term far too liberally, and thus a great deal of confusion exists between the generally accepted definition of ambush marketing and the reality of the circumstances surrounding the numerous marketing strategies that the term is commonly used to describe. While much of the current literature on the subject concludes that the existing state of the law in the United States is not equipped to handle the alleged problems that ambush marketing poses, this article concludes that American trademark and unfair competition law adequately balances the competing interests at stake in ambush marketing cases and should serve as a model for the rest of the world to follow. This is a relatively short article that exposes the fundamental flaw that pervades most analyses of the alleged threat posed by ambush marketing: that while critics argue that so-called ambush marketing tactics are particularly threatening because they cause consumer confusion as to a non-sponsoring company’s association with an event, few ambush cases have ever been litigated primarily because complainants have not even been able to meet the Lanham Act’s low-threshold of proving any such likelihood of consumer confusion.

Consuming the Olympics: The Fan, the Rights Holder and the Law (2010)

Mark James and Guy Osborn

The London Olympic Games and Paralympics Act 2006 (the Act) received its Royal Assent on 30 March 2006, well over six years before the Games themselves are due to begin. The early passing of this Act is partly to ensure that the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) has sufficient time to organise the Games, and partly to ensure that Parliament has sufficient legislative time to implement the legal framework necessary to stage a modern Games to the satisfaction of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The Act as a whole covers a variety of issues from the creation of the ODA and the defining of its role and powers in respect of planning and transport to the creation of several new criminal offences...

London 2012 and the Impact of the UK's Olympic and Paralympic Legislation: Protecting Commerce or Preserving Culture? (2011)

Guy Osborn and Mark James

The general commercial rights associated with the Olympic Movement are protected in the UK by the Olympic Symbols etc (Protection) Act 1995. The Olympic Association Right created by this Act enables the sole beneficiary, the British Olympic Association, to exploit these rights exclusively in order to be able to fund its activities and maintain both its political and sporting independence. On being granted the right to host the Games of the 30th Olympiad in London 2012, the UK Government, in response to a requirement of the Host City Contract with the International Olympic Committee, created the London Olympic Association Right under s.33 and sch.4 London Olympic and Paralympic Games Act 2006. This provision enables the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games to exploit to the fullest the commercial rights associated with the London Olympic Games in order to finance its successful staging. This article analyses whether the IOC’s requirement for legislative protection and state enforcement of the commercial rights associated with hosting an edition of the Olympic Games, and in particular the restrictions on using specific everyday words and phrases descriptive of the time and place that the Games takes place, are compatible with the Fundamental Principles of Olympism as defined in the Olympic Charter and its stated aim as being a celebration of sporting endeavour, culture and education.

Who Wins the Olympic Games: Economic Development and Medal Totals (2000)

Andrew B. Bernard and Meghan R. Busse

This paper examines determinants of Olympic success at the country level. Does the U.S. win its fair share of Olympic medals? Why does China win 6% of the medals even though it has 1/5 of the world's population? We consider the role of population and economic development in determining medal totals from 1960-1996. We also provide out of sample predictions for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

Why the Olympics have Three Prizes and Not Just One (2004)

Pavlo Blavatskyy

There are at least two reasons why multiple prizes can be optimal in symmetric imperfectly discriminating contests. First, the introduction of multiple prizes reduces the standard deviation of contestants' effort in asymmetric equilibria, when the majority of contestants actively participate in competition. Second, the introduction of multiple prizes may increase the aggregate (average) effort contributed in the contest. When more of a total prize fund is shifted away from the first prize, on the one hand, the active contestants obtain an incentive to reduce their individual effort, but, on the other hand, the number of active contestants may increase. Therefore, the aggregate (average) effort may increase when the number of active contestants in equilibrium increases.

Expectations and Emotions of Olympic Athletes (2005)

A. Peter McGraw, Barbara Mellers and Philip E. Tetlock

In an often-cited study about counterfactuals, Medvec, Madey, and Gilovich (1995) found that bronze medalists appeared happier than silver medalists in television coverage of the 1992 Summer Olympics. Medvec et al. argued that bronze medalists compared themselves to 4th place finishers, whereas silver medalists compared themselves to gold medalists. These counterfactuals were the most salient because they were either qualitatively different (gold vs. silver) or categorically different (medal vs. no medal) from what actually occurred. Drawing on archival data and experimental studies, we show that Olympic athletes (among others) are more likely to make counterfactual comparisons based on their prior expectations, consistent with decision affect theory. Silver medalists are more likely to be disappointed because their personal expectations are higher than those of bronze medalists. We provide a test between expectancy-based versus category-based processing and discuss circumstances that trigger each type of processing.

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