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Providing for the rich?

Hoekman, R.H.A., Breedveld, K., Kraaykamp, G.
New York
Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group
European Journal for Sport and Society, volume 14, number 4, 327-347

Providing for the rich? : the effect of public investments in sport on sport (club) participation of vulnerable youth and adults


The relevance of local sport policy to achieve ‘sport for all’ has been widely recognized. Public spending on sport is seen necessary to keep sport affordable, while specific policy programs are aimed to include groups that lag behind in sport participation. This paper explores the impact of local government’s sport expenditures on sport (club) participation and more particularly its impact on sport (club) participation differences between higher and lower socio-economic positions, in the Netherlands. Bronfenbrenner’s socio-ecological model is used as a theoretical starting point for our analyses and the researchers performed multiple 3 level logistic regression analyses. The analyses were conducted separately for youth and adults using information from a large national population survey enriched with secondary data on municipal sport expenditures and policy programs. Their findings suggest that the effect of sport policy is most substantial for youth sport club participation. For adults, sport participation tends to be negatively associated with municipal sport expenditures and policy programs. With regard to the impact of sport policy on participation differences between higher and lower socio-economic positions, they find that for youth higher municipal sport expenditure is associated with smaller sport club participation differences between higher and lower socio-economic groups. Overall, our results imply that in the Netherlands municipal sport policy does matter, although primarily for youth, in addition to the social environment and socio-economic position of individuals. With these results our study contributes to an evidence-base for sport policy and to the current body of knowledge on explaining differences in sport participation.

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