I pick World Cup matches according to what the countries have done for my career as a scholar. The "Round of 16" was rough for me -- I had 5 correct predictions and 3 incorrect. Usually, my approach does much better thanks to 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.
Overall in this World Cup, the rule has done fairly well. In the group stage of the Women's World Cup, there were 36 matches total. For two of them, my rule wasn't decisive because neither country had done much of anything to directly impact my career. And then there were 10 ties. (Purists will say that I should be able to predict ties, but I think it's a stretch for my ridiculous approach to even pick winners.) So what about the remaining 24 matches where my decision-rule was decisive? 16 wins, 8 losses. My overall tally is therefore 21 wins, 11 losses. Not bad considering that it's a pretty silly approach.
Now we move into the quarter finals. Here are the upcoming matches (June 26-27):
Germany v. France -- I studied abroad in France and learned the language, but French universities have snubbed me ever since. I don't know what their problem is -- they have a great women's soccer team. Clearly they have the resources to do more for me! Meantime, I've got a lot to thank Germany for. 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. Go Germany!
China v. USA -- I have loved my teaching experiences with Peking University's Guanghua School of Management. But no country has done more for me than the United States. Co-authors Raj Desai, Jennifer Gandhi, Jay Goodliffe, Darren Hawkins, Christian Holkeboer, James Hollyer, and Stephen Kosack. Plus my universities: Manhattan College, NYU, Yale, and Georgetown. USA! USA!
Australia v. Japan -- Soccernomics would pick mighty Japan in this match. Japan's economy is more than triple the size of Australia's. But what has Japan done for me? Not much. No visits, no co-authors. Meanwhile, my friend and colleague Barry Williams hosted my visit to Australia's Bond University. I stay loyal to my friends, even when up against the odds. Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi!!!
England v. Canada -- I've got one Canadian co-author, Eric Werker. But I've got three English co-authors: Alastair Smith, Matthew Rablen, and Matthew Gould -- and visits to London School of Economics. England really came through for me last round, defeating Norway. I've got to stay with them again. England!