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Accounting for Achievement in Athens: A Count Data Analysis of National Olympic Performance



We model summer Olympic medal counts using count data analysis. The advantage of this methodology is its explicit recognition of the discrete non-negative form of the dependent variable; i.e. the total number of medals won by a nation in a summer Olympiad. Using data from the most recent 2004 Summer Games in Athens, Poisson and negative binomial count data regression models are constructed. The chosen model is negative binomial and attaches statistical significance to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita, the age dependency ratio, and a relatively cold climate. In contrast to previous studies, population, health expenditure per capita, and the effect of being a host or neighbour nation of an Olympiad are all insignificant in explaining medal counts. We also find no “cricket effect” or “rugby effect.”

Suggested Citation

  • Glen Roberts, 2006. "Accounting for Achievement in Athens: A Count Data Analysis of National Olympic Performance," Econometrics Working Papers 0602, Department of Economics, University of Victoria.
  • Handle: RePEc:vic:vicewp:0602 Note: ISSN 1485-6441

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Masters, William A & McMillan, Margaret S, 2001. "Climate and Scale in Economic Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 6(3), pages 167-186, September.
    2. Imad A. Moosa & Lee Smith, 2004. "Economic Development Indicators as Determinants of Medal Winning at the Sydney Olympics: An Extreme Bounds Analysis," Australian Economic Papers, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(3), pages 288-301, September.
    3. 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.
    4. Andrew B. Bernard & Meghan R. Busse, 2004. "Who Wins the Olympic Games: Economic Resources and Medal Totals," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 413-417, February.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Who will win the Olympics?
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2008-08-08 12:05:00
    2. Analysing Olympic Medal Data
      by Dave Giles in Econometrics Beat: Dave Giles' Blog on 2012-08-24 22:35:00


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    Cited by:

    1. Kavetsos, Georgios & Szymanski, Stefan, 2010. "National well-being and international sports events," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 158-171, April.

    More about this item


    Olympics; count data; Poisson model; negative binomial model;

    JEL classification:

    • C16 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Econometric and Statistical Methods; Specific Distributions
    • C25 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models; Discrete Regressors; Proportions; Probabilities
    • L83 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Sports; Gambling; Restaurants; Recreation; Tourism

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