The Impact of Economic Growth on the Competitiveness of National Elite Sport Systems
India is still the extreme under-achiever in international sport competitions. Whereas in China high growth rates have been accompanied by a huge improvement in its ranking in international sport events a similar impact of extraordinary growth rates is seemingly totally absent in the case of India. Is India an exception? Several econometric studies have shown that income per capita is a significant variable explaining elite sport results such as results in the Olympic Games. From this stylized fact follows the hypothesis that 'above/below average' growth rates lead to relative improvements/deterioration of elite sport results (with a time lag)’. However, this has not previously been tested, and the contingencies explaining the seemingly widely different developments in countries such as China and India have not been explored. This paper tests the above hypothesis by means of a study of the correlation between growth in GNP per capita and growth in medal points (no. 1: five points, no. 2: three points, no.3: two points) in Olympic Summer Games. The findings show no correlation and in a few calculations a very weak correlation. Among the countries behaving in accordance with the hypothesis in the most recent period are Great Britain, USA, Germany, China and, surprisingly, India, whereas Australia and New Zealand, Japan and South Korea, the Scandinavian countries and others show contradictory evidence. The paper concludes with tentative explanations for the findings including the contradictory country evidence.
Elite sport systems; Economic growth; National differences; Competitiveness