Incentives for Getting Economic Impact Studies Right

Craig Depken links to an interesting article on the economic impact of the Super Bowl at Division of Labour. It’s your usual discussion of economic benefit claims with private consulting firms claiming $100s of millions in benefits, with economists arguing these numbers are grossly exaggerated. Interestingly enough, the consulting firm hired to do one of the studies discussed refused to comment.

But Craig highlights a quote that really sticks out to me.

Advocates of the Super Bowl as an economic engine dismiss its academic skeptics as using complicated formulas to obscure the obvious. And they note that the reports bashing NFL figures bring the professors coveted media coverage as the big game approaches.

“It’s dangerous to say these games don’t generate economic impact,” said Robert Canton, a director in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Hospitality and Leisure practice who focuses on sports and tourism.

“It’s not logical,” he added.

So, let me get this straight. Professional teams that earn billions of dollars of public subsidies based on the notion that the sports events and venues generate otherwise uncapturable benefits are honest brokers of the truth, while academic economists can’t be trusted because they’re glory hounds. That’s the kind of logic that brings us multipliers of five.

2 Responses “Incentives for Getting Economic Impact Studies Right”

  1. Slim and Slam says:

    Let’s not forget the straw man that Robert Canton lovingly points to.

    Is any economist (sports-focused or otherwise) saying that the Super Bowl generates *no* economic impact? It certainly doesn’t appear that way. They’re just saying that the economic impact trumpeted by the NFL et al is waaaay overstated.

  2. Marc Schneider says:

    What else would you expect? My experience (as an antitrust lawyer) is that these consulting firms are largely whores anyway that will say whatever is in their (or their client’s) interest. Of course, nowadays, if you bash an academic “expert” you are a populist and therefore superior to those eggheads. We all know that people go into academics because of the opportunity for glory.