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, physical activity and leisure. He has recently edited a volume on Sports Economics, has published two books on the Economics of Sports, and edited a Handbook on Sport Management.  He is currently embarked on studies of the determinants of sport, physical activity and volunteering, and their impacts on:

  • Health and well-being
  • Social capital, social inclusion and exclusion,
  • Human capital and labour markets.

He is also exploring the consequences of health and well-being on personal, social and economic outcomes.

He welcomes PhD applications in these areas and is currently supervising the following students:

  • The effects of Active Travel on Well-Being (My Diem Dinh – 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)
  • Developing graduate attributes and employability through sports-based volunteering (Laura Borrie – with Jamie Kenyon and Cath Harvey)
  • Exploring socioeconomic change on well-being (Aycan Akoglu – with Simona Rasciute)

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

Professor Downward’s research and consultancy have included work on the following funded projects (in alphabetical order):

British Academy:

  • To investigate social determinants of health through participation in sport.
  • To identify the health, well-being and social capital outcomes of participation in sport exploring the role of neoliberalism and the consequent development of the private-sector provision and management of sports and fitness opportunities (With Ian Hodgkinson).
  • To identify the effects of corruption in sport on social capital (With Elisavet Manoli)


  • To develop a Meta-Evaluation of the Impacts and Legacy of the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (With ECORYS and Grant Thornton as a member of the Loughborough University consortium, led by Ian Henry). working with ECORYS and Grant Thornton for the DCMS.

England Netball:

  • To evaluate elite player development (with Leigh Robinson).

Greenhouse Sports:

  • To evaluate the impact of sport interventions on pupil academic achievement and personal development.

Japanese Anti-Doping Agency

  • To explore the attitudes and impacts of doping in Sport across countries (with Barrie Houlihan and Simona Rasciute).

Sport England:

  • To identify the determinants of participation in sports and leisure in the UK, and the role of sports clubs in promoting participation.
  • To evaluate the Invest to Save project (With Ian Henry and Chris Harwood).
  • Survey question development for the new Active Lives Survey focusing on understanding volunteering in sport and participation in organised sport (led by Simon Shibli and Sheffield Hallam University).


  • The social value of youth crime reduction


  • To profile and assess the economic impact of cycle tourism (with Les Lumsdon, Andy Cope and Richard Weston).

The Commonwealth

  • To produce supporting content on the good governance of sport to contribute to CABOS’ guidance to Commonwealth Governments on Integrity in Sport (with Borja Garcia).

The Health Foundation:

  • The role of health as an asset in enhancing personal, social and economic life (with Simona Rasciute and Harish Kumar).

The International Olympic Committee:

  • To examine the status and future visions of Sport for All in Europe (with Mick Green).

UK Sport:

  • To investigate the motivations and expectations and sports development implications of volunteering at major events, with reference to the Manchester Commonwealth Games and the sports development implications of volunteering at mega events (with Les Lumsdon and Rita Ralston).
  • The identification of the Social Value of Medal Success for UK sport (led by Simon Shibli and Sheffield Hallam University).

Professor Downward is the Editor of European Sport Management Quarterly and serves on the editorial board of International Sports Policy and Politics, 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 was until 2010 President of the European Association of Sports Economics.

Featured publications

  • Downward, P., Rasciute, S.,  and Kumar, H. (2020) The effect of health on social capital; a longitudinal observation study of the UK, BMC Public Health (2020) 20:466
  • Rasciute, S., Downward, P. and Simmons, N. (2020) Intrinsic versus Instrumental Benefits of Higher Education: the Challenge from Self-Funded Higher Education, Applied Economics,
  • Downward, P., Hallman, K., and Rasciute, S. (2020) Volunteering and Leisure Activity in the UK: A longitudinal analysis of males and females, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly
  • Wicker, P. and Downward, P. (2020) Voluntary roles and well-being: Some causal insights and resulting challenges for sport organisations, Journal of Sport Management
  • Houlihan, B., Downward, P. M., Yamamoto, Y., Rasciute, S., & Takasu, K. (2019). Public opinion in Japan and the UK on issues of fairness and integrity in sport: implications for anti-doping policy, International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, 1-24.
  • Dawson, P., Massey, P. and Downward, P. (2019) Home Advantage and Referees: Evidence from the European Rugby Cup, Sport Management Review,
  • Kumar, H., Manoli, E., Hodgkinson, I and Downward, P. (2018) Means as well as ends: Some critical insights for UK sport policy on the impact of facility ownership and configuration on sports participation, International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics,
  • Hallmann, K, . Dickson, G. and Downward, P. Factors Influencing Time Allocation of Sport Event Volunteers, (2018) International Journal of Event and Festival Management,
  • Schüttoff, U., Pawlowski, T., Downward, P. & Lechner, M. (2018) Sports participation and Social Capital Formation during Adolescence, Social Science Quarterly, 99(2), 683-698. 
  • 1Pawlowski, T., Schüttoff, U., Downward, P. and Lechner, M. (2018) Can sport really help to meet the Millennium Development Goals? Evidence from children in Peru, Journal of Sports Economics, 19(4), 498-521.
  • Kumar, H., Manoli, A. E., Hodgkinson, I. R., & Downward, P. (2018). Sport participation: From policy, through facilities, to users’ health, well-being, and social capital. Sport Management Review, 21(5), 549-562.
  • 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