Beautiful Game Theory: How Soccer Can Help Economics

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Beautiful Game Theory uses soccer to test economic theories and document novel human
behaviour. Ignacio Palacios-Huerta offers insights into game theory and microeconomics, covering topics such as mixed strategies, discrimination, incentives, and human preferences. Peter Dawson approves of the mix between analytical rigour and stories, and there are many aspects that would interest journalists and policy-makers alike.  Beautiful Game Theory: How Soccer Can Help Economics. Ignacio- Palacios-Huerta. Princeton Univeristy Press. 2014.

Ever since the historian and essayist Thomas Carlyle described economics as ‘the dismal science’, economists have attempted to shake off this unwanted tag. And whilst the global financial crisis has undoubtedly increased interest in economics, it arguably remains accessible only to those with a keen interest in complex mathematical models. To counter this, a number of so-called “pop economics” books have appeared in recent years that aim to apply economics to relatable issues. Popular examples include the freakonomics trilogy by Dubner and Levitt and several excellent contributions from Tim Harford.- The focal point of Beautiful Game Theory: How Soccer Can Help Economics written by LSE Professor Ignacio Palacios-Huerta is obviously narrower, in that it focuses on sport, and just one sport in particular – soccer (association football) – but it adds to a small, but growing, number of contributions that have attempted to link economics with sport (see, for example, The Numbers Game by Anderson and Sally (2013), and Soccernomics by Kuper and Szymanski (2012)). In contrast to these contributions the analysis provided in Palacios-Huerta’s  book is more focussed and more rigorous, with many of the chapters
containing a good amount of technical detail punctuated with stories and anecdotes.

Dawson, Peter (2014) Book review: beautiful game theory: how soccer can help economics by Ignacio Palacios-Huerta. LSE Review of Books (14 Sep 2014) Blog.

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