Domestic violence and football in Glasgow : are reference points relevant?

Dickson, Alex and Jennings, Colin and Koop, Gary (2016) Domestic violence and football in Glasgow : are reference points relevant? Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, 78 (1). pp. 1-21. ISSN 1468-0084 (

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A growing body of evidence suggests that people exhibit loss aversion – the displeasure from suffering a loss is larger than the pleasure enjoyed from an equivalent-sized gain – and that expectations are important in determining what is perceived as a loss. Recent research suggests that disappointing results in sporting fixtures relative to prematch expectations play an important role in triggering domestic violence (Card and Dahl, 2011), consistent with the idea of loss aversion around expectations-based reference points. This paper seeks to investigate whether such behaviour is exhibited by football fans in Glasgow by looking at the relationship between match outcomes relative to expectations and levels of domestic violence using a data set that contains every domestic violence incident in Glasgow over a period of more than eight years. Whilst we find that when the ‘Old-Firm’ Glasgow rivals Celtic and Rangers play there are large increases in domestic violence (regardless of the outcome of the match), in other matches disappointing results relative to expectations are not linked to increased domestic violence, except when those matches occur at the very end of the season where the title is still being contended.