How to pick your World Cup team (hint: root for Nigeria)

From The New York Times: An Economist’s Guide to World Cup Rooting: The Leaders

Dean Karlan, a Yale economist, has calculated a score for each World Cup team, based on its population, poverty level and interest in soccer. He argues a Nigeria championship would bring the most aggregate happiness.


pick your world cup team


It is your moral duty to support the Super Eagles


The basic principle is simple, drawn from utilitarian principles: Root for the outcome that will produce the largest aggregate increase in happiness. So I came up with a simple index, calculated by a country’s passion for soccer multiplied by its average level of poverty multiplied by its population. It’s perhaps a bit crude, simply to multiply these factors by each other, but the exercise highlights some important truths about the world.

Why this formula? Considering soccer interest seems obvious enough — the more passionate fans are, the happier they’ll be if their team emerges victorious. I incorporate poverty into the score for several reasons. First, happiness and wealth are correlated, and all else being equal, a utilitarian would prefer to help the person who is worst off. Second, the wealthy have more outlets for dealing with sports disappointments — such as going out to a nice meal — and can bounce back faster.

worst teams to supportOn the other hand, do not go for Australia, USA or Switzerland.


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