School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


Professor Paul Downward BA (Hons), MA, PhD, SFHEA

Photo of Professor Paul Downward

Professor Paul Downward graduated from Staffordshire University (formerly North Staffordshire Polytechnic) with a first-class honours degree in Economics in 1988. He subsequently graduated with an MA in Economics from the University of Manchester in 1990 and a PhD in Economics from the University of Leeds in 1996.

Professor Downward has previously worked at Aston Business School and Staffordshire University, before coming to Loughborough in 2004.

Professor Downward has wide ranging interests in sport and physical activity. He has recently helped to edit a volume on Sport Management being responsible for the contributions from economics. He has published two books on the Economics of Sports. He is currently planning a second edition of one of these volumes and a helping to edit a Handbook on Sports Economics.  He is currently embarked on studies of the determinants and the health, well-being, social capital, human capital and labour market impacts of sports and physical activity in the UK, as well as sports volunteering. He welcomes PhD applications in these areas.

He is currently supervising PhD students in the following areas:

•  Facility ownership and strategy impacts on physical activity participation and its outcomes (Harish Kumar - with Ian Hodgkinson and Elisavet Manoli)

• The effects of Active Travel on Well-Being (My Diem Dinh – with Simona Rasciute)

• The effects of neighbourhood-level crime on Well-Being (Jessica Russell – with Simona Rasciute)

• Delivering positive health outcomes for young people in disadvantaged communities: an investigation of organisational capacity within third sector sports organisations (Tarryn Steenekamp – with Carolynne Mason)

• Sport Corruption and Social Capital (John Hie - with Elisavet Manoli)

He also has an interest in the research philosophy, methods and ethics of economics, has published in these areas, and engaged in ESRC and other funded postgraduate training workshops.

Professor Downward’s research and consultancy has included working with UK Sport exploring the motivations and expectations of event volunteering, with reference to the Manchester Commonwealth Games, and exploring the sports development implications of volunteering at mega events. He has also worked with Sport England exploring participation in sports and leisure in the UK, the role of sports clubs in promoting participation and in evaluating the Invest to Save project. He has also worked with SUSTRANS exploring the profile and economic impact of cycle tourism; the status and future visions of Sport for All in Europe for the International Olympic Committee and evaluated England Netball’s elite player development. Professor Downward was a recent member of the Loughborough University consortium, led by Professor Ian Henry, working with ECORYS and Grant Thornton to develop a Meta-Evaluation of the Impacts and Legacy of the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games for the DCMS. With Dr Borja Garcia he has also recently worked with the Commonwealth to produce supporting content on good governance of sport to contribute to CABOS guidance to Commonwealth Governments on Integrity in Sport. Most recently Professor Downward has worked with colleagues from Sheffield Hallam University, led by Professor Simon Shibli, for Sport England on survey question development for the new Active Lives Survey focusing on understanding volunteering in sport and participation in organised sport and also exploring the Social Value of Medal Success for UK sport. Working with Professor Barrie Houlihan and Dr Simona Rasciute for JADA he has explored attitudes and impacts of doping in Sport. He is currently leading a British Academy funded project investigating the health, well-being and social capital outcomes of participation in sport in the light of the rapidly changing supply-side structure of sport to explore if neoliberalism and the consequent development of the private-sector provision and management of sports and fitness opportunities promote or reduce public well-being and social inclusion. He is also involved in a British Academy funded project exploring the effects of corruption in sport on social capital being led by Dr Elisavet Manoli. With Dr Carolynne Mason and working with Streetgames and Greenhouse Sports, ongoing research is exploring the social value of youth crime reduction programmes and the impact of sports interventions on pupil academic achievement and personal development.

Professor Downward is the Editor of European Sport Management Quarterly, and serves on the editorial board of The Journal of Sports Economics, The Journal of Sport and Tourism and Sport Management Review.

He is also a member of UEFA’s Research Grants Committee, and the Executive Board of the European Association for Sport Management. He is President of the European Association of Sports Economics. 

  • Downward, P. Greene, W. and Rasciute, S. (2017) Do Relational Goods Raise Well-Being?: An Econometric Analysis, Eastern Economic Journal, 43 :4, 563–579
  • Wicker, P., Downward, P, and Lera-Lopez, F. (2017) Does regional disadvantage affect health-related sport and physical activity level? A multi-level analysis of individual behaviour, European Journal of Sport Science
  • Downward, P., Hallmann, K. and Rasciute, S. (2017) Exploring the interrelationship between sport, health and social outcomes in the UK: Implications for health policy, European Journal of Public Health
  • Lechner, M. and Downward, P. (2017) Heterogeneous sports participation and labour market outcomes in England, Applied Economics, 49:4, 335-348, DOI:10.1080/00036846.2016.1197369
  • Rasciute, S. and Downward, P. (2016) Explaining variability in the investment location choices of MNEs: An exploration of country, industry and firm effects, International Business Review.
  • Schüttoff, U., Pawlowski, T., Downward, P. & Lechner, M. (2016) Sports participation and Social Capital Formation during Adolescence, Social Science Quarterly.  
  • Downward, P. and Rasciute, S. (2016) ‘No man is an island entire of itself’. The hidden effect of peers on physical activity, Social Science and Medicine, DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.09.038
  • Wicker, P. and Downward, P. (2016) Exploring spillovers between government quality and individual health production through sport and physical activity, European Sport Management Quarterly, 10.1080/16184742.2016.1257038.
  • Pawlowski, T., Schüttoff, U., Downward, P. and Lechner, M. (2016) Can sport really help to meet the Millennium Development Goals? Evidence from children in Peru, Journal of Sports Economics.
  • Downward, P., Dawson, P. and Mills, T.C. (2015) Sports Participation as an Investment in (Subjective) Health: A Time Series Analysis of the Life Course. Journal of Public Health doi:10.1093/pubmed/fdv164