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World Cup Fandom Hurts GDP Growth, UNCC Economist Finds


Two soccer powerhouses, Germany and Argentina, will compete this weekend in the World Cup final. The tournament is the most watched sporting event on Earth, but that passion may have negative economic ramifications, a UNC Charlotte economist has found.


A study after the 2010 World Cup found significant, measurable decreases in the GDP growth of participating countries. Belgium, for instance, which knocked the United States out of the tournament, has seen GDP growth during the games stall by more than $300, per person, per World Cup compared to its standard rate.

South America experiences the largest effects, according to the study, costing thousands of dollars to per capita GDP. UNCC economist Craig Depken says some countries essentially shut down for the tournament.

“Over time that has led to maybe about a third of the disparity between per-capita GDP in the US and per-capita GDP in Argentina or Brazil,” says Depken.

The average country lost $72 per person per World Cup, according to the study.

As for the U.S., despite the surge in interest this year Depken says it’s still not on the scale where he expects it to have an impact on GDP.

The economists will update their study with 2014 figures and submit it for peer review later this summer.