Participation in sporting activities is considered to provide many societal benefits including increased social capital and social integration, better health and wellness and improved educational outcomes. Many studies have looked at the impact of sports participation on happiness (Huang & Humphreys, 2012), future income (Dewenter & Giessing, 2015), labour market outcomes (Lechner, 2015). The findings generally support the hypothesis that increased sports participation provides societal benefits. However, the relationship between sports participation and crime is less developed with findings more ambiguous.
Recently, I have explored the relationship between sports participation and crime in England between 2012 and 2015. The working paper utilises sports participation data sourced from the Active People Survey (APS), an annual survey conducted in the United Kingdom concerned with analysing adult participation in sport and active recreation. The survey provides the largest sample size ever established for a sport and recreational survey, providing evidence of differences in sports participation across regions as well as individuals and socioeconomic groups.
The findings suggest that sport participation reduces crime rates for both property (e.g. theft, robbery) and person (e.g. assault, sexual offences) crimes in 323 English local authorities between 2012 and 2015. The findings suggest that sports participation has a stronger effect on person crimes compared with property crimes. The results indicate that a 10% increase in sports participation leads to a fall in person crimes of 1.30 and 1.56% while a 10% increase in sports participation rates leads to a fall in property crimes of between 0.64 and 0.73%. Also, the paper finds evidence to support previous studies which identify socioeconomic variables tending to have a statistically significant impact on property crime rates as opposed to person crime.
The full working paper, including references cited above can be found here.