How are they doing? The academic performance and mental wellbeing of world cup babies

Dirk Bethmann, Jae Il Cho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In June 2002, South Korea cohosted the 17th FIFA World Cup. Unexpected wins carried the Korean National Football Team to the semi-finals and sparked an unprecedented euphoria among Koreans. Die-hard fans and occasional football viewers, young and old, women and men flocked the streets side by side, cheered for their team, and partied through the nights. In the subsequent spring of 2003, the country experienced a temporary and significant increase in its fertility rate. Using a difference-in-differences design, we exploit the quasi-experimental nature of this episode to investigate the Beckerian trade-off between the quantity and quality of children born to parents in South Korea. Our results support the notion of an adverse effect on child quality. Students born approximately ten months after the World Cup tend to perform significantly worse in school. Moreover, our results uncover a hitherto overlooked aspect: the same students exhibit significantly higher degrees of mental wellbeing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101579
JournalSSM - Population Health
Publication statusPublished - 2024 Mar

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors


  • 2002 world cup
  • Difference in differences design
  • Mental wellbeing
  • Quantity-quality trade-off of children

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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