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Women's empowerment and Olympic success
Date:5/13/2014

ALLENDALE, Mich. New research shows that nations with greater women's empowerment win more medals and send more athletes to the Summer Olympics. The effect of women's empowerment held for both men and women, although it was stronger for female athletes, according to a study by Grand Valley State University researchers. The findings were published in April 2014 in the Journal of Sports Economics.

The research, led by Aaron Lowen, associate professor of economics at Grand Valley State, provides evidence for the popular but previously untested hypothesis that women's empowerment leads to international athletic success. The authors examined the success of more than 130 nations participating in the Summer Olympics from 1996 through 2012. Similar to previous studies, they found that more populous and wealthier nations were more successful. However, they also showed that another important predictor of success was the Gender Inequality Index or GII. The GII includes information on women's reproductive health, political empowerment and participation in the labor force, and it ranges from 0 (no inequality between genders) to 100 (extreme inequality). The authors found that a 10-point decrease in GII was associated with winning about one extra medal for men and 1.5 medals for women. They found similar results when looking at participation and other measures of success, such as medals won per athlete.

The researchers focused on the Summer Olympics because it is the world's largest elite sports competition in terms of participating individuals and nations and the number of distinct events. The Olympics are also ideal because women's participation has steadily increased to a level that is almost as high as men's.

"Many studies have shown that women's empowerment is linked with economic development and better outcomes for children, but there's been little research on whether it leads to female sports success," said Lowen. "We read clai
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Contact: Dottie Barnes
barnesdo@gvsu.edu
616-331-2953
Grand Valley State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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