The impact of poor scheduling of international football tournaments on English GCSE results

For every big sports event, there are two types of economic studies that make the news: the ones about the economic impact, which essentially add up all the expenses somewhat related to the event (sometimes applying a multiplier), never mind the fact that all this could have been spent on something else, and the studies about productivity losses because people are sleepy or distracted at work. I remember from school days that these events would also have a tendency to fall on exam period, which was a serious drag on exam preparation. How much? Someone finally figured it out.

Robert Metcalfe, Simon Burgess and Steven Proud exploit the fact that every two years a major international football tournament overlaps with important exams at the end of compulsory schooling in England. And their results are not pretty: male students as well as disadvantaged students suffer disproportionately from the competition for their attention. From them, exam scores are reduced by 0.2 standard deviations, which substantial, and as the authors note as large as some policy interventions. Just rescheduling those exams could be more effective than pouring money into some school initiatives.

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