A Win for Nigeria is a Win for Happiness, Economist Says

It might be disappointing to see your World Cup team eliminated before reaching the round of 16, but a New York Times column has an unlikely suggestion to cheer up: support the Nigerian team.

The author, Dean Karlan, an economics professor at Yale University, based his argument on utilitarian principles -- "Root for the outcome that will produce the largest aggregate increase in happiness."

Karlan argued that in order to bring maximum happiness to the most people, the winning country should be poor but have a large population and strong passion for football. The more populous the country, the easier it is to achieve happiness for a greater number of people. If the country has a high level of passion for football, then a victory will bring that much more happiness.

He had two reasons for taking poverty into consideration. "First, happiness and wealth are correlated, and all else being equal, a utilitarian would prefer to help the person who is worst off," he explained. "Second, the wealthy have more outlets for dealing with sports disappointments -- such as going out to a nice meal -- and can bounce back faster."

All things considered, Nigeria came out on top. Nigeria is one of the poorest countries among 32 nations in the World Cup with a population of 174 million but has the fourth-largest passion for the sport.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jun. 30, 2014 10:17 KST