Is Football a Matter of Life and Death – Or is it more Important than that?

| Publication date: 24 Apr 2018 | NIESR Author(s): Dolton, P | External Author(s): MacKerron, G | JEL Classification: D23, D03, Z20 | NIESR Discussion Paper Number: 493

Football is the national sport of most of the planet. This paper examines how happy the outcomes of football matches make us. We calibrate these results relative to other activities and estimate the dynamic effects these exogenous events have on our utility over time. We find that football – on average – makes us unhappier – so why would we go through the pain of following a football team.  This behavioural choice paradox occupies much of the paper so we investigate why we go on following our teams, even though matches make us more unhappy on average.  We examine how much our story changes if we examine the dynamic effects of football matches over time in different hours before and after the game and the extent to which our happiness is influenced by what we would rationally expect the result to be beforehand – as based on the betting odds.

Keyword tags: 
happiness
football
behavioural economics
irrationality
dynamic effects of outcomes
framed subjective utility
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