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?

Course Disclaimer

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.

ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) credits are converted to semester credits/quarter units differently among U.S. universities. Students should confirm the conversion scale used at their home university when determining credit transfer.

Please reference fall and spring course lists as not all courses are taught during both semesters.

Availability of courses is based on enrollment numbers. All students should seek pre-approval for alternate courses in the event of last minute class cancellations


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