The Economic Impact of the Olympic Games

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The Economic Impact of the Olympic Games

With the Olympic games being held in Sydney this year, I wondered if perhaps the performance of the economy was being affected in part by the fiscal stimulus provided by Olympic construction in Sydney and other parts of the country. Australia's economy has been performing well recently, suggesting that there might be some effect. Over the last five years, growth in Australia's gross domestic product has averaged 4.35%, almost a full point above it's thirty year annual average of 3.5%, and the unemployment rate is near a ten year low. According to one estimate, the Olympics will tack on an additional six and a half billion dollars, about 1.6% of the GDP, to Australia's GDP over the 1994-2000 period. A natural question to ask is if this growth is due primarily to the Olympic preparation, or if, instead, it is a result of some other change in policy, or perhaps just plain old luck. One way to address this question is to see if other host countries have experienced increases in GDP around Olympic years. Below is a graph of one measure of the boost to GDP that countries receive from hosting the Olympics. Each point represents the average, over all of the host countries since 1952, rate of growth of GDP. What this graph suggests is that prior to the Olympics and during the Olympic year GDP growth is higher than average - maxing out at nearly 1.5% above average GDP in the 3rd year before the Olympics. This number seems consistent with the estimates for Sydney - at least prior to the Olympic year. However, the graph also suggests that growth rates are lower in the years after the Olympics, than in the years prior to the games.

The economic benefits of the 2000 Olympics can be classified as direct and indirect. Direct benefits include the impact of the Olympics on exports, investment and employment. In terms of exports, the main impact will be inbound tourism, sponsorship fees, media broadcast rights, and ticket sales....
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