Forget the depressing economic news. India will pick up five medals in the upcoming London Olympics, two more than the tally at Beijing, including an extra gold. And part of this improvement could be explained by the fact that our economic growth environment is still better than in many other parts of the world.
This prediction comes from investment bank Goldman Sachs, whose researchers have used regression analysis to come to this comforting conclusion, in a paper released on Wednesday. They have examined the relationship between economic achievement and the medal tally, using a combination of data and dummy variables. They have not only considered average incomes but also whether a country is a democracy, has hosted the Olympics host that year, is a developed market and its pace of income growth. But the star variable is the Goldman Sachs Growth Environment Score (GES), a broad measure of growth conditions across countries that the investment bank has been totting up since 1996. The statistical relationship between these variables predicts five medals for India at London.
As the chief executive of the British Paralympic Association says in an interview with the Goldman Sachs team: “… when you create a world class environment you are far more likely to create world class athletes.”
Of course, if you are one of those who has less trust in such regressions, especially after the North Atlantic financial crisis, then there are other parts of the report that are very interesting. For example, the increasing proportion of women athletes, the globalization of Olympic venues and the rising medal tallies of the developing countries give us some idea of how the world has changed since 1896, the year the modern Olympics began.
Incidentally, the Chinese gold tally is expected to drop from 51 to 33 though its total tally could fall more modestly, from 100 to 98. One obvious explanation is the lack of a home advantage in 2012. But, perhaps China bears may argue that its weakening economy could also be a factor.