Should Cities Go for the Gold? The Long‐Term Impacts of Hosting the Olympics

19 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2012

See all articles by Stephen B. Billings

Stephen B. Billings

University of Colorado - Boulder

J. Scott Holladay

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: July 2012


The Summer Olympics bring hundreds of thousands of visitors and generate upward of $10 billion in spending for the host city. This large influx of tourism dollars is only part of the overall impact of hosting the Olympic Games. In order to host the visitors and sporting events, cities must make sizable investments in infrastructure such as airports, arenas, and highways. Additionally, the publicity and international exposure of a host city may benefit international trade and capital flows. Proponents argue that this investment will pay off through increased economic growth, but research confirming these claims is lacking. This paper examines whether hosting an Olympiad improves a city's long‐term growth. In order to control for the self‐selection of cities that host Olympic Games, this paper matches Olympic host cities with cities that were finalists for the Olympic Games, but were not selected by the International Olympic Committee. A difference‐in‐difference estimator examines post‐Olympic impacts for host cities between 1950 and 2005. Regression results provide no long‐term impacts of hosting an Olympics on two measures of population, real Gross Domestic Product per capita and trade openness.

JEL Classification: O18, R11

Suggested Citation

Billings, Stephen B. and Holladay, J. Scott, Should Cities Go for the Gold? The Long‐Term Impacts of Hosting the Olympics (July 2012). Economic Inquiry, Vol. 50, Issue 3, pp. 754-772, 2012. Available at SSRN: or

Stephen B. Billings (Contact Author)

University of Colorado - Boulder ( email )

Leeds School of Business
Koelbel Building
Boulder, CO US 80309
United States

J. Scott Holladay

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics

Under construction: SSRN citations will be offline until July when we will launch a brand new and improved citations service, check here for more details.

For more information