NZ outperforms at the Olympics

With a haul of 13 medals, New Zealand has outperformed the best

predictions of the world’s number crunchers by a massive

162.5 per cent, according to a Massey University economics


Dr Michael Naylor, from the School of Economics and Finance, has

compiled a table of Olympic medal performance by combining the

predictions of the four leading mathematical models used for this

purpose. Between them the models include factors like population,

per capita income, and financial support for athletes.

"In the least week New Zealanders have been intensely interested in

New Zealand’s relative Olympic medal performance, especially

how we have done comparatively to other countries," says Dr Naylor.

"My calculations show that New Zealand outperformed what we could

relatively expect to achieve by over 160 per cent, and we were

second best in the world."

Only Iran, with 12 medals, exceeded expectations by an even greater

degree. However, New Zealand beat the performance of countries like

Jamaica, Great Britain, China, and the United States. Our

trans-Tasman neighbours, after a disappointing Olympics campaign,

ranked just 26th.

Dr Naylor says he averaged the predictions of the most accurate

models used to predict Olympic medals to formulate his table.

"The models of Andrew Bernard from Dartmouth’s Tuck School of

Business and Daniel Johnson of Colorado College have proved to be

uncannily accurate - above 95 per cent," he explains. "The Bernard

model uses an equal weighting of population and GDP, then adds in a

host country effect and the country’s performance in previous

Olympic Games.

"The Johnson Model uses those factors proportionally weighted, as

well as neighbouring country and country specific factors. Factors

like climate and being communist have been shown to now be


To the Bernard and Johnson models, Dr Naylor also added the more

recent studies by Goldman Sachs and PricewaterhouseCoppers, which

used a wide range of metrics.