June 24, 2014
IPA founder Dean Karlan and Project Associate Nate Barker took a break from their work on Ultra Poor Graduation pilots to crunch some World Cup numbers for the New York Times' The Upshot. They suggest a utilitarian approach, ranking the teams in the competition by which countries would benefit the most from a victory. The data and methodology are available here [excel format], which you can use to create your own ranking.
UPDATE (7/4/2014): Dean and Nate have an updated Upshot piece here which reconsiders the rankings for the remaining teams based on country history of winning. The data is downloadable here [Excel format.] On the first tab, you can change the "utility," that is the deminishing happiness value for each successive win (now set at .25), to see how it changes the rankings for each match.