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An Economic Model of the Evolution of the Gender Performance Ratio in Individual Sports

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This paper shows that the Gender World Record Ratio (GWRR) in four disciplines, i.e. marathon, triple jump, pole vault and 800 meters, follows a S-shape over time. It is argued that this pattern is the result of the late authorization of women to participate in these disciplines at major events. A simple economic model is built to understand this mechanism. The model is shown to predict a S-shaped GWRR in disciplines with late autorization for women to participate. Comparing the evolution of the GWRR in triple jump to that in long jump enables us to downplay the relative importance of technological developments in the narrowing of the gender gap in performance. Since participation at major events is no longer gender-biased, we may conclude that the GWRR is likely to remain stable in the future.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 April 2012

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