Watching sports has never really been my cup of tea (would you believe that I have only ever been to one football game and a horse race (where I actually won a bit of money:)), so I have not posted about the Olympic Games in Athens - until now (that they are over). As a matter of fact, when I was in Athens three years ago, I was convinced that they would never manage to have the city ready for the games in time, but apparently, their eleventh hour effort paid off handsomely. Alright, taking the cost into account, the payoff may be quite questionable ...
Now, we are approaching the heart of the matter of this post! In today's paper, there is a pretty funny article (if you think that looking at things from different angles is funny, that is) about the medals won in the games. Conventional wisdom would have it that the USA, China and Russia won the most medals.
But that's not really fair now, is it? Those are huge countries with large populations, so you may expect them to take a lot of the medals. If you adjust that to number of medals per head, then the ranking looks quite different: 1. Bahamas, 2. Romania, 3. Norway!
And since poor countries will not have the same opportunities to develop their athletes appropriately, you would want to adjust for that, too. Here's the first ranks of medals per income per head: 1. China, 2. Ethiopia, 3. Russia.
Here is the ranking of the first ten & Switzerland ... and here is the article bei Zürich economists Frey and Lüchinger.
Hmm, that gets me thinking - how about introducing a handicap for large populations or wealth, just like in golf where good players get a handicap so that they can also play alongside with weaker players?