Behavior and Incentives in Economics: the Case of Soccer

Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Behavior and Incentives in Economics: the Case of Soccer

  • Host University

    Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona

  • Location

    Barcelona, Spain

  • Area of Study


  • Language Level

    Taught In English

    Hours & Credits

  • Contact Hours

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview


    This course takes soccer as an illustration of theories and empirical evidence related to economic incentives and behaviour. Soccer is widely followed and generates a great amount of information. This knowledge is used in a systematic way to explore the validity of economic theories and to empirically test predictions generated by these theories.



    Basic knowledge of Economics



    1. Demand and Supply in the Soccer Market

    • Demand: preferences, elasticity, addiction.
    • Social preferences.
    • The two roles of preferences: explanation for individual decisions and metric of welfare.
    • Costs and Performance: the economics of stars and outliers. The role of talent.
    • The soccer industry: players, fans and media.

    2. Markets and Organizations in Soccer

    • Competition and anti-trust in soccer.
    • Competitive balance in soccer.
    • Home-field advantage.
    • Institutions and regulations that internalize externalities: leagues and federations.
    • Salary caps and revenue sharing rules.

    3. Cognitive Power in Soccer

    • Uncertainty: predictions and ex-post rationalization.
    • Believes and judgement in the soccer industry.
    • Share price movements and betting.
    • Game theory in soccer: simultaneous and sequential games.
    • Rationality: shooting penalties, mixed strategies and behavioral economics.

    4. Individuals and groups in Soccer

    • Rules and referee behaviour: creating, enforcing and influencing the rules.
    • Corruption in soccer.
    • Team production and incentives for individuals and teams.
    • The role of the manager. Efficiency measurement in soccer.
    • Tactics: evolutionary economics.

    5. Efficiency in Soccer

    • The costs and benefits of organizing big sports events such as Soccer World Cups.
    • Governance of for-profit and non-profit soccer clubs.
    • The Player Transfer Market: analogy to takeovers and auctions.
    • Is contemporary soccer sustainable?
    • Determinants of national success in soccer. Is it a coincidence that Spain excels in soccer when its economy is in worst shape?