Friday, August 8, 2008

Who will win the Olympics?

Now that the Olympic Games are about to start and the patriots start counting medals, let us ask what determines the success of a country at these events? Obviously, size matters, in particular for team events (and this is why I frustratingly root for the little countries). Bernard and Busse show that economic development also matters. This is not surprising, as a country need to reach some development level to devote resources to sustain a competitive sports program.

Lui and Suen confirm this. Kuper and Sterken as well and argue that the home field advantage has become less important over time. Glen Roberts argues that a cold climate helps as well. Moosa and Smith add health expenditures. Stefan Szymanski claims that medals counts are very predictable and that any discrepancy should be attributable to cheating, an argument that Jacob and Levitt have used successfully in other research.

Of course, Olympic success can be a function of how much sports and in particular competitive sports enjoy public support. Rathke and Woitek make exactly this argument using stochastic frontier analysis which measures how far a country is from its potential. Tcha and Pershin find that, much like in international economics, high-income countries specialize less in particular sports.


Anonymous said...

Nice post. Btw did u know that the ancient Olympics captured the imaginations of the Greeks for more than a millennium until a Christianized Rome put a stop on the competitions in the fourth century AD. But the Olympic ideal did not die. Anyways which country do u think shall win the maximum gold medals?

Unknown said...


May I suggest a link related to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games?

Our site:

Title: Beijing Olympics

Please let me know if you want a link back.
Many thanks for your reply.

Best Regards,


Anonymous said...

If I look at the current medal table, I would conclude Italians are big cheaters and Canadians are too honest. But that is only after three days.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, your post was featured on Fark!