The Becker-Posner Blog has a nice post on what it takes to win medals in the Olympics. Using regression analysis of results since WWII, the answer is:
- a large population
- a high per capita income
- being the host country
- a dictatorship
This could explain Ireland's, er, lack of medals so far at the Beijing Olympics. Though I am hopeful for some of our boxers. But like all econometric analyses the explanation is only partial - there are always anomalies like New Zealand: similar to ourselves in most regards but already ranked number 21 in the medals league.
Still, if we apply the formula then we need to incentivise Irish women to have more babies, possibly annex Northern Ireland and Wales, and keep our economy growing. Of course, we'll need a dictatorship to ensure we can do all this in time for the London Olympics in 2012 ...