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How long does a medal win last? Study by Gergely Csurilla & Imre Fertő in Applied Economics


How long does a medal win last? Survival analysis of the duration of Olympic success

Gergely Csurilla & Imre Fertő

Published online: 1 Apr 2022 – Applied Economics



The aim of this article is to examine the factors that determine the durability of Olympic success at seven consecutive Summer Games between 1996 and 2021, employing survival analysis. It is assumed that factors similar to those that influence the durability of Olympic success also influence the likelihood of winning Olympic medals. We examine the durability of Olympic success at the level of sports for all medals, and for each type of medal. Our results suggest that a country can maintain its performance in a sport for an average of 2.1 Olympic Games. The Kaplan-Meier survival function shows that about 85% of spells fail after a single Games The GDP, host country, Communist past, the number of medals in a sport and the duration of preceding medal winning period are associated with successive medal-winning. Population size and the number of previous discontinuous medal wins decrease duration of Olympic success.

Keywords: Survival analysis, medal winning, Summer Olympic Games, sports-level data, sports-fixed effect

JEL Classification: C41, L83, Z21