A kick for the GDP: winning the World Cup could boost the country’s economy for two quarters

by Buenos Aires Herald
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Since last Sunday, when Gonzalo Montiel converted the penalty that took Argentina to the summit of the World Cup in Qatar, the country was suspended in a moment of  joy. The streets overflowed with people celebrating the triumph, 34 years after the last cup won by the national team and lifted at that time by Diego Maradona. The celebrations are taking place in a complicated economic context: inflation reached 92.4% in the last 12 months, but most people’s incomes did not rise in the same proportion. 

A paper written by a British university economist offers a ray of hope. Researcher Marco Mello, from the School of Economics at the University of Surrey, used OECD data from 1961 to analyze what happened to the economies of the countries that hosted the World Cup and also those that won the tournament. 

For the winning countries, according to Mello, “the analysis shows that winning the FIFA World Cup increases GDP growth by at least 0.25 percentage points in the two subsequent quarters”. This growth is especially strongest in the first three months after winning the World Cup, but then slows down. 

The result seems primarily driven by enhaced exports growth

The reason for this is not directly related to greater publicity for the country given the global media coverage, but rather to the greater interest in the products exported by its economy. Specifically, Mello states: “The result seems primarily driven by enhanced exports growth, which is consistent with a greater appeal enjoyed by national products and services on the global market after the victory of a major sport event”.

Is it possible to transfer these findings to the Argentine economy? Perhaps it is not the most correct thing to do, given that, according to the researcher himself, the data series of the country began in 1996, 10 years after the last championship won by Argentina (in 1986). For this reason, the country was included as a “control group”. According to World Bank data, in the previous championships won, the evolution of the economy was uneven: in 1978, during the last dictatorship, the GDP fell 4.5% and in 1986 it cut a streak of two consecutive years of decline with a rebound of 6.2%. The estimates of Sergio Massa, Minister of Economy, indicate an increase of 5% for 2022 and 3.5% for 2023.

However, this good fortune is not the same for the country hosting the World Cup, as the economist found no correlation between the organization of the tournament and higher GDP growth. “There are no significant effects on GDP growth for the host country,” said Mello.

A kick for the GDP: the effect of winning the FIFA World Cup by Buenos Aires Herald on Scribd

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