Zimbalist received his B.A. from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, in 1969 and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1972 and 1974 respectively. He has been in the Economics Department at Smith College since 1974. He has consulted in Latin America for the United Nations Development Programme, the United States Agency for International Development and numerous companies, and he has consulted in the sports industry for players' associations, teams, cities, companies and leagues. He has published several dozen articles and twenty-four books. He did a biweekly commentary on the business of sports for National Public Radio's Marketplace between 2002 and 2005, and appears regularly with commentary on sports and public policy in the national media. He is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Sports Economics. He is author of "Circus Maximus: The Economic Gamble Behind Hosting the Olympics and the World Cup" and was one of the leading critics of the Boston 2024 Olympic bid, serving as an adviser to the "No Boston Olympics" activist group.
Zimbalist's eldest son, Jeff, is a documentary filmmaker, along with his second son, Michael. He also has two twin children named Alex and Ella Zimbalist. He lives with his wife Shelley, Alex and Ella in Northampton, Ma.
- Comparing Economic Systems (1989)
- The Cuban Economy: Measurement and Analysis of Socialist Performance (1989)
- Panama at the Crossroads (1991)
- Baseball and Billions (1992)
- Sports, Jobs and Taxes (1997)
- Unpaid Professionals: Commercialism and Conflict in Big-time College Sports (1999)
- The Economics of Sport, I & II (2001)
- May the Best Team Win: Baseball Economics and Public Policy (2003)
- National Pastime: How Americans Play Baseball and the Rest of the World Plays Soccer (2005)
- In the Best Interests of Baseball? The Revolutionary Reign of Bud Selig (2006)
- The Bottom Line: Observations and Arguments in the Sports Business (2007)
- Equal Play: Title IX and Social Change (2008)
- Circling the Bases: Essays on the Challenges and Prospects of the Sports Business (2010)
- An updated and expanded edition of his In the Best Interests of Baseball? Governing Our National Pastime (2013)
- The Sabermetric Revolution: Assessing the Growth of Analytics in Baseball (2014)
- Circus Maximus: The Economic Gamble Behind Hosting the Olympics and the World Cup (2015)
- Unwinding Madness: What Went Wrong with College Sports and How to Fix It (2017)
- No Boston Olympics: How and Why Smart Cities Are Passing on the Torch (2017)
- "Journal of Sports Economics". SAGE Publications. Retrieved 13 February 2012.
- "Economist, Olympic Expert Andrew Zimbalist on Boston 2024's '2.0' Plan: 'It's Bologna'". BostInno. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
Ruttman, Larry (2013). "Andrew Zimbalist, Baseball's Economist". American Jews and America's Game: Voices of a Growing Legacy in Baseball. Lincoln, Nebraska and London, England: University of Nebraska Press. pp. 346–353. ISBN 978-0-8032-6475-5. This chapter in Ruttman's history, based on a February 1, 2008 interview with Zimbalist conducted for the book, discusses Zimbalist's personal and professional involvement with Judaism and baseball.