Time to pick winners for the final two matches of the 2015 World Cup! I choose World Cup winners according to what the countries have done for my career as a scholar. And, surprisingly, it's not a bad way to predict. If your country is in the final matches, I have co-authored multiple times with your countrymen...or you're from Japan (see below).
Overall in the women's World Cup, my decision rule has picked 25 winners and 13 losers. (There have been 50 total matches, but there were 10 ties, which I don't count. Yeah, purists will say I should be able to pick ties, but I think it's already a stretch to use this ridiculous approach to pick winners. There were also 2 matches where neither country had contributed much to my career, so I made no prediction.) While far from perfect, this silly rule does better than one might expect. The reason is a spurious correlation: populous & rich countries are likely to have both (1) good performances in international sports (including Soccer) and (2) strong universities. Countries with strong universities are more likely to produce co-authors I end up working with, or simply have the resources to invite me to share my research through presentations or teaching courses.
Here is my prediction for third place (July 4):
Germany v. England -- The English have done a lot for me. I have three English co-authors: Alastair Smith, Matthew Rablen, and Matthew Gould. Plus I've had a visit to Oxford, which has a Blackwell's bookstore -- the only bookstore where I've actually seen my books for sale on the regular shelves! Furthermore, I have tremendous gratitude to the London School of Economics.
But Germany slightly edges out England. In addition to sponsored visits to Berlin, Göttingen, Heidelberg, Munich, and Tübingen, I've got 4 German co-authors: Axel Dreher, Martin Gassebner, Michael Lamla, and Stephan Klasen. In total, my English co-authors and I have produced one book chapter and one article -- and that article also happens to be co-authored by a German. Meantime, with Germans I have co-authored a total of seven articles and a book. With regrets to the English, I'm going to have to go with Germany.
And my predicted champion (July 5):
USA v. Japan -- The rematch! The prediction is clear. Despite a massive economy and great soccer team, Japan has done virtually nothing for me. No co-authors, no invitations. By contrast, no country has done more for my career than the United States.
The universities I have had direct connections with include: Manhattan College (where I did my undergraduate education), NYU (where I did my PhD), Yale (where, over the course of a decade, I was an assistant and then associate prof), UCLA (where I had the most amazing fellowship ever!), and Georgetown (where I am currently a professor).
Plus, I have been invited to present my research at so many other US institutions, including Binghamton University, Chicago University, Columbia University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Emory University, George Washington University, Notre Dame University, Nova Southeastern University, Ohio State University, Penn State, Pittsburgh University, Princeton University, Tufts University, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, UMASS Amherst, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Maryland, University of Minnesota, University of Pennsylvania, University of Southern California, University of Texas at Austin, University of Virginia, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Vassar College, and Villanova University.
I thank them all so much and will wholeheartedly root for our team to win it all. USA! USA!