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


  • Daniel K. N. Johnson
  • Ayfer Ali


Objectives. This article examines all postwar Summer and Winter Olympic Games in order to investigate the economic and political determinants of participation and medal‐winning success. Methods. Using newly compiled data, regression analysis gives intuitive results with surprisingly accurate predictions beyond the historical sample. We also estimate the rise in income per capita required to send an extra participant, and the “cost” in GDP per capita of an extra medal. Results. 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. Single‐party and communist regimes win more medals in both seasons. Conclusion. Although their effects differ with the season of the Games, socioeconomic variables explain Olympic participation and success remarkably well.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel K. N. Johnson & Ayfer Ali, 2004. "A Tale of Two Seasons: Participation and Medal Counts at the Summer and Winter Olympic Games," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 85(4), pages 974-993, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:socsci:v:85:y:2004:i:4:p:974-993
    DOI: 10.1111/j.0038-4941.2004.00254.x

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