When economists study the Olympics, interesting trends and predictions result. On a related note, I dislike the country vs. country stance that floods the airwaves on the broadcasts, for two reasons. Firstly, if I do watch, it’s to admire how far modern humankind has progressed, physically. Secondly, it makes finding coverage of the actual events difficult, as channels are too busy trumpeting and repeating their own country’s unfortunate 24th placing.
“Economists Moonjoong Tcha and Vitaly Pershin show that focusing on comparative advantage significantly boosts medal performance.4 Consider the sport of beach volleyball, where seven of the eight gold medals awarded (and 15 out of the 24 total medals awarded) were won by the U.S. and Brazil. What about the one gold medal these two countries with huge coastlines and beach cultures didn’t win? That’s right, it went to Australia.”