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National Cultures and Soccer Violence


  • Edward Miguel
  • Sebastián M. Saiegh
  • Shanker Satyanath


Can some acts of violence be explained by a society's "culture"? Scholars have found it hard to empirically disentangle the effects of culture, legal institutions, and poverty in driving violence. We address this problem by exploiting a natural experiment offered by the presence of thousands of international soccer (football) players in the European professional leagues. We find a strong relationship between the history of civil conflict in a player's home country and his propensity to behave violently on the soccer field, as measured by yellow and red cards. This link is robust to region fixed effects, country characteristics (e.g., rule of law, per capita income), player characteristics (e.g., age, field position, quality), outliers, and team fixed effects. Reinforcing our claim that we isolate cultures of violence rather than simple rule-breaking or something else entirely, there is no meaningful correlation between a player's home country civil war history and soccer performance measures not closely related to violent conduct.

Suggested Citation

  • Edward Miguel & Sebastián M. Saiegh & Shanker Satyanath, 2008. "National Cultures and Soccer Violence," NBER Working Papers 13968, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13968
    Note: EFG LE POL

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Joseph Price & Justin Wolfers, 2010. "Racial Discrimination Among NBA Referees," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(4), pages 1859-1887.
    2. Levitt Steven D., 2002. "Testing the Economic Model of Crime:The National Hockey League's Two-Referee Experiment," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 1(1), pages 1-21, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Raul Caruso & Marco Di Domizio & David A. Savage, 2015. "Hic Sunt Leones! The role of national identity on aggressiveness between national football teams," DISCE - Quaderni dell'Istituto di Politica Economica ispe0076, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Dipartimenti e Istituti di Scienze Economiche (DISCE).
    2. Christopher Blattman & Edward Miguel, 2009. "Civil War: A Review of Fifty Years of Research," Working Papers id:2231, eSocialSciences.
    3. Raul Caruso & Marco Di Domizio, 2013. "Allo Stadio Come Alla Guerra? Ostilità Internazionale E Aggressività Sul Campo Di Calcio," Rivista di Diritto ed Economia dello Sport, Centro di diritto e business dello Sport, vol. 9(2), pages 127-142, settembre.
    4. Alberto Bisin & Thierry Verdier, 2010. "The Economics of Cultural Transmission and Socialization," NBER Working Papers 16512, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Naci Mocan, 2013. "Vengeance," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(3), pages 969-982, July.
    6. Nathan Nunn, 2009. "The Importance of History for Economic Development," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 65-92, May.
    7. Christopher Blattman & Edward Miguel, 2010. "Civil War," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(1), pages 3-57, March.
    8. Miklos-Thal, Jeanine & Ullrich, Hannes, 2010. "Effort in Nomination Contests: Evidence from Professional Soccer," MPRA Paper 24340, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Caruso, Raul & Di Domizio, Marco, 2013. "International hostility and aggressiveness on the soccer pitch Evidence from European Championships and World Cups for the period 2000-2012," MPRA Paper 50099, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • K0 - Law and Economics - - General
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries
    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics

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