nep-spo New Economics Papers
on Sports and Economics
Issue of 2020‒02‒03
one paper chosen by
Humberto Barreto
DePauw University

  1. Who are the champions? Inequality, economic freedom and the olympics By Kufenko, Vadim; Geloso, Vincent

  1. By: Kufenko, Vadim; Geloso, Vincent
    Abstract: Does a countrys level of inequality affect its ability to win Olympic medals? If it does, is it conditional on institutional factors? We argue that the ability of economically free societies to win medals will not be affected by inequality. In these societies, institutions generate incentives to invest in the talent pool of individuals at the bottom of the income distribution (people who are otherwise constrained in the ability to expend resources on athletic training). These effects cancel out those of inequality. In unfree societies, the incentives that promote investments in skills across the income distribution are weaker. Consequently, the effects of inequality on the ability to win are stronger. Using the Olympics of 2012 and 2016 in combination with the Economic Freedom of the World Index, we find that inequality only matters in determining medal numbers for unfree countries. We link these results to the debates on inequality.
    Keywords: Olympics,Inequality,Economic Freedom,Institutions
    JEL: D63 E02 O43
    Date: 2019

This nep-spo issue is ©2020 by Humberto Barreto. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.