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Beautiful Game Theory:
How Soccer Can Help Economics
Ignacio Palacios-Huerta

Paperback | 2016 | $18.95 | £14.95 | ISBN: 9780691169255
224 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 2 halftones. 35 line illus. 30 tables.
Hardcover | 2014 | $39.95 | £32.95 | ISBN: 9780691144023
224 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 30 line illus.
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eBook | ISBN: 9781400850310 |
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A Q&A with Ignacio Palacios-Huerta

A wealth of research in recent decades has seen the economic approach to human behavior extended over many areas previously considered to belong to sociology, political science, law, and other fields. Research has also shown that economics can provide insight into many aspects of sports, including soccer. Beautiful Game Theory is the first book that uses soccer to test economic theories and document novel human behavior.

In this brilliant and entertaining book, Ignacio Palacios-Huerta illuminates economics through the world's most popular sport. He offers unique and often startling insights into game theory and microeconomics, covering topics such as mixed strategies, discrimination, incentives, and human preferences. He also looks at finance, experimental economics, behavioral economics, and neuroeconomics. Soccer provides rich data sets and environments that shed light on universal economic principles in interesting and useful ways.

Essential reading for students, researchers, and sports enthusiasts, Beautiful Game Theory is the first book to show what soccer can do for economics.

Ignacio Palacios-Huerta is professor of management, economics, and strategy at the London School of Economics, and head of talent identification at Athletic Club de Bilbao, a professional soccer club in Spain.


"[E]njoyably accessible to nonspecialists, especially sports enthusiasts, who will learn a great deal about soccer, economics, and human behavior more generally."--Foreign Affairs

"Beautiful Game Theory shows what it is like to think deeply about a sport and to test your ideas with data. . . . [I]t is a book I recommend unconditionally to those economists with even a passing sport."--John Considine,


"This stimulating book shows that an understanding of economic ideas gives deep insights into soccer play, and that soccer provides important evidence to test various theories of economic behavior, such as efficient markets and social influences on behavior. You do not have to be a soccer fan to learn from and enjoy this engaging book."--Gary S. Becker, University of Chicago and Nobel Laureate in Economics

"This is an excellent book by an author who has made innovative and powerful contributions to our understanding of soccer and economics."--Stefan Szymanski, coauthor of Soccernomics

"Palacios-Huerta is perhaps the preeminent economist using sports applications to help us learn about economics."--J. James Reade, University of Reading

Table of Contents:

Introduction 1
1.Pelé Meets John von Neumann in the Penalty Area 9
2.Vernon Smith Meets Messi in the Laboratory 31
3.Lessons for Experimental Design 45
4.Mapping Minimax in the Brain (with Antonio Olivero, Sven Bestmann, Jose Florensa Vila, and Jose Apesteguia) 58
5.Psychological Pressure on the Field and Elsewhere 68
6.Scoring at Halftime 89
7.Favoritism under Social Pressure 107
8.Making the Beautiful Game a Bit Less Beautiful (with Luis Garicano) 124
9.Fear Pitch 151
10.From Argentina without Emotions 164
11.Discrimination: From the Makana Football Association to Europe 174
Acknowledgments 193
References 195
Index 205

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