Does national pride from international sporting success contribute to well-being? An international investigation

The sports industry is viewed as being of growing economic significance, reflected in its promotion in public policy. One specific aspect of this policy is to argue that investment in international sporting success creates pride from sporting success, which contributes to subjective well-being (SWB). However, though it has been argued that indicators of sporting success, such as the number of medals won at major sports events like the Olympics, act as a proxy for pride from sporting success, there have not been any direct tests of this hypothesis. Controlling for the impact of physical activity, attendance at sports events and other standard covariates, this paper addresses this hypothesis by focusing on a variable which directly measures pride felt from sporting success (Pride) by individuals. Because of the possibility that a latent characteristic such as nationalism, or overall national pride, might be linked to both Pride and SWB, i.e. an endogeneity problem is present, an instrumental variable technique is employed. The findings do not support the hypothesis that pride following from sporting success can contribute distinctly to SWB. Moreover, the hosting of events may be more important than success at them, a point suggested by the positive association between attendance at sporting events and SWB. As such the goals of public sector investment in both hosting major sports events as well as investment in sports development to achieve international sporting success are shown to be more distinct than implied in much of the policy announcements and require more careful scrutiny.