Children’s experiences can have important long-term consequences for their health and wellbeing. One potentially valuable experience is participation in youth sports, which may yield benefits including improved physical health and the development of generalizable skills. In this report, CEA reviews the evidence on access to youth sports and long-term effects of participation. First, we analyze the current state of access to youth sports, noting that girls and children from lower-income families participate at lower rates than those from higher-income families. Second, we review the theoretical mechanisms through which youth sports may improve childhood outcomes, along with some of the evidence on these benefits. Third, we review the literature that addresses concerns about causal inference in the analysis of the relationship between youth sports and outcomes. The estimates from these approaches suggest a positive relationship between participation in youth sports and outcomes.

While a full-scale cost-benefit analysis is beyond the scope of this paper, even small investments in this area could have a positive impact. Commonly started and staffed by volunteers, youth sports leagues promote more active lifestyles and facilitate positive mentorship and peer-to-peer relationships that can enhance outcomes later in life.

You can read more in the .PDF below.