A Tale of Two Seasons: Participation and Medal Counts at the Summer and Winter Olympic Games

Wellesley College Department of Economics Working Paper 2002-02

32 Pages Posted: 25 Jan 2002  

Daniel K. N. Johnson

Colorado College - Department of Economics and Business

Ayfer Ali

Harvard University - Department of Economics; Wellesley College - Department of Economics

Date Written: January 2002

Abstract

This paper examines the post-War Summer and Winter Olympic Games in order to determine the economic and political determinants of national participation, of female participation in particular, and of success at the Games (i.e., medal counts). Compared to the Summer Games, Winter participation levels are driven more by income and less by population, have less host nation bias and a greater effect of climate. Roughly similar factors determine medal count success, although single party and communist regimes win far more medals (and gold medals) in both seasons than can be attributed to other factors. We find no large significant differences between types of athletic events (e.g. luge versus nordic skiing). We estimate that major participating nations requires a $260 rise in income per capita to send an extra participant. Similarly the "cost" of an extra medal is $1700 per capita and $4750 per capita for an additional gold medal. Predictions for participation and medal counts (including gold medals in particular) for the 2002 Salt Lake City Games are presented as a test of our analysis.

Keywords: Olympics, Winter, Summer, medal, participation, athletic, sports

JEL Classification: A1, F0, J0, O1, Z10

Suggested Citation

Johnson, Daniel Kent Neil and Ali, Ayfer, A Tale of Two Seasons: Participation and Medal Counts at the Summer and Winter Olympic Games (January 2002). Wellesley College Department of Economics Working Paper 2002-02. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=297544 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.297544

Daniel Kent Neil Johnson (Contact Author)

Colorado College - Department of Economics and Business ( email )

14 E Cache La Poudre Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80903
United States
719-389-6654 (Phone)
719-389-6927 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://faculty1.coloradocollege.edu/~djohnson

Ayfer Ali

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Wellesley College - Department of Economics ( email )

106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02181
United States
781-283-2236 (Phone)
781-283-2177 (Fax)

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