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Nations With Greater Women's Empowerment Win More Medals

Update Date: May 14, 2014 08:07 AM EDT

Nations with greater women's empowerment win more medals and send more athletes to Summer Olympics, according to a new research. 

The effect of women's empowerment was observed to be well founded for both men and women, although it was little stronger for female athletes, the research noted. 

"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 Aaron Lowen, associate professor of economics at Grand Valley State, who led the research, in the press release. "We read claim after claim that it does, so we decided it was worth finding out if it's true. Fortunately, the results turned out to be clear cut. No matter how we conducted the analyses or what measures of success we used, women's empowerment predicted Olympic success."

Researchers targeted the Summer Olympics because it is one of the world's largest elite sports competition in terms of participating individuals and nations and the number of distinct events. 

The research also found that greater gender equality is associated with greater success for men. 

"The benefit to male athletes was a surprise, and we don't really understand why this occurs," said Lowen. "One idea is that societies that bring women into the workforce generate wealth in ways that are not captured with traditional wealth measures, such as gross domestic product. These societies may afford both men and women greater opportunities for recreational and personal pursuits, including elite athletic training and competition."

The findings of the study have been published in the Journal of Sports Economics. 

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