Watching the Olympics in a foreign country (the U.K.) brings out the super-patriot in me. I’m cheering for the U.S. athletes in each event, and I don’t even care about the games!
Is this patriotism unusual? Actually, we Americans are outliers in this regard. In a recent set of World Values Surveys, 71 percent of Americans responded positively when asked if they were very proud of their country. Among 16 other rich countries in the surveys, the average was only 45 percent. And only Australians and Irish were as proud as we seem to be. The jingoism of the networks in the U.S. during the Olympics caters to, and perhaps reinforces, our attitudes.
How many medals will U.S. athletes win at the Sochi Winter Olympics?
To answer this question, one might want to think about the abilities of the athletes involved in each competition. And then use that information to forecast who is going to win each event.
Of course, that approach requires knowledge of the athletes involved in a wide variety of sports. Furthermore, even if you knew how to measure ability, you would also have to figure out some way to forecast each athletes’ performance.
In a recent paper by Madeleine Andreff and Wladimir Andreff — “Economic Prediction of Medal Wins at the 2014 Winter Olympics” (PDF) — an approach advocated by a number of sports economists is employed. Read More »