Surfer’s mental health boosts global economy by $1 trillion annually

Original article from OpenAccessGovernment

New research from Griffith University and Andrés Bello University reveals that surfing’s positive impact on surfer’s mental health contributes a staggering $1 trillion annually to the global economy.

The study estimates the Gold Coast’s yearly benefits at $1.0–3.3 billion, with mental health accounting for 57–74% of surfing’s total economic advantages. The research, published in NPJ Ocean Sustainability, emphasises the significant economic value derived from surfers’ mental well-being.

Surfer’s mental health: Behind mental health cost savings

Professor Emeritus Ralf Buckley underscores the study’s focus on estimating the broad economic value of mental health benefits derived from recreational surfing. Acknowledging variations in mental health outcomes among surfers, the study highlights surfing’s potential as a behavioural addiction and stress reducer.

Surfing’s role in workplace productivity

Professor Buckley emphasises the link between outdoor activities like surfing and enhanced job performance. Stress reduction through surfing can lead to improved workplace productivity, reducing costs related to mental healthcare. The economic impact is significant, demonstrating the value of recreational activities for mental well-being.

Gold coast as a case study

The Gold Coast’s economic valuation considers the influence of surfing on lifestyle choices, residential locations, and work preferences, creating secondary economic effects. With the surfer population doubling in the past five years, the study examines the intertwined relationship between surf amenities, beach amenities, and the broader economy of the Gold Coast.

Calculating the mental health value of surfing

The study adopts existing health economics calculations for parks and greenspace, applying them to surfing. Utilising the productivity + healthcare estimation method, the research estimates a 10% improvement in per capita workplace productivity and a 10% reduction in mental healthcare costs due to stress reduction from surfing.

While providing a top-down estimate, Professor Buckley emphasises the need for more accurate local-scale assessments by tracking mental health measures and influential factors among surfers over multiple years.

The study aligns with UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG14 (Oceans), emphasising the economic value of surfing as an argument for coastal conservation.


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