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Why are we so good at football, and they so bad? Institutions and national footballing performance

Reade, J. ORCID: and Batarfi, M. (2021) Why are we so good at football, and they so bad? Institutions and national footballing performance. De Economist, 169 (1). pp. 63-80. ISSN 1572-9982

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s10645-020-09379-6


The basic production technology in football is identical for each team that competes. All around the world, a field, goalposts and a ball is all that is required, in addition to players. It's hard to imagine the quality of informal football in public parks, streets and alleys the world over differs much. Yet at each country's highest level, national football teams, vast quality differences exist across countries. This paper sketches out broad patterns in this variation in performance, and seeks to understand why some countries are very good, whilst others perform poorly. We investigate a range of macroeconomic, demographic and political explanations, alongside more conventional sporting metrics, and consider the extent to which they explain the observed variation in footballing performance historically. We find that higher level of GDP per capita helps nations to win more often, but that population hinders this. A more developed domestic footballing structure appears to be helpful too.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Politics, Economics and International Relations > Economics
ID Code:94438


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