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Exercise, physical activity, and exertion over the business cycle

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  • Colman, Gregory
  • Dave, Dhaval

Abstract

Shifts in time and income constraints over economic expansions and contractions would be expected to affect individuals' behaviors. We explore the impact of the business cycle on individuals' exercise, time use, and total physical exertion, utilizing information on 112,000 individual records from the 2003–2010 American Time Use Surveys. In doing so, we test a key causal link that has been hypothesized in the relation between unemployment and health, but not heretofore assessed. Using more precise measures of exercise (and other activities) than previous studies, we find that as work-time decreases during a recession, recreational exercise, TV-watching, sleeping, childcare, and housework increase. This, however, does not compensate for the decrease in work-related exertion due to job-loss, and total physical exertion declines. These effects are strongest among low-educated men, which is validating given that employment in the Great Recession has declined most within manufacturing, mining, and construction. We also find evidence of intra-household spillover effects, wherein individuals respond to shifts in spousal employment conditional on their own labor supply. The decrease in total physical activity during recessions is especially problematic for vulnerable populations concentrated in boom-and-bust industries, and may have longer-term effects on obesity and related health outcomes.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

Volume (Year): 93 (2013)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 11-20

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Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:93:y:2013:i:c:p:11-20

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Keywords: USA; Unemployment; Recession; Exercise; Time use; Physical activity; Employment; Health;

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References

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  1. Henry Saffer & Dhaval M. Dave & Michael Grossman, 2011. "Racial, Ethnic and Gender Differences in Physical Activity," NBER Working Papers 17413, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Athina Economou & Agelike Nikolaou & Ioannis Theodossiou, 2008. "Are recessions harmful to health after all?: Evidence from the European Union," Journal of Economic Studies, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 35(5), pages 368-384, October.
  3. Paul Gabriel & Peter Groothuis, 2005. "Positive Assortative Mating and Spouses as Complementary Factors of Production: A Theory of Labor Augmentation," Working Papers 05-14, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
  4. Petri Böckerman & Edvard Johansson & Satu Helakorpi & Ritva Prättälä & Erkki Vartiainen & Antti Uutela, 2007. "Does a slump really make you thinner? Finnish micro-level evidence 1978-2002," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(1), pages 103-107.
  5. Charles, Kerwin Kofi & DeCicca, Philip, 2008. "Local labor market fluctuations and health: Is there a connection and for whom?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(6), pages 1532-1550, December.
  6. Dhaval Dave & Robert Kaestner, 2006. "Health Insurance and Ex Ante Moral Hazard: Evidence from Medicare," NBER Working Papers 12764, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Xin Xu & Robert Kaestner, 2010. "The Business Cycle and Health Behaviors," NBER Working Papers 15737, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Timothy Halliday, 2006. "The Impact of Aggregate and Idiosyncratic Income Shocks on Health Outcomes: Evidence from the PSID," Working Papers 200606, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics.
  9. Christopher J. Ruhm, 1996. "Are Recessions Good For Your Health?," NBER Working Papers 5570, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Gerdtham, Ulf-G. & Ruhm, Christopher J., 2002. "Deaths Rise in Good Economic Times: Evidence From the OECD," IZA Discussion Papers 654, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2003. "Healthy Living in Hard Times," NBER Working Papers 9468, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Neumayer, Eric, 2004. "Recessions lower (some) mortality rates:: evidence from Germany," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 58(6), pages 1037-1047, March.
  13. Dave, Dhaval M. & Kelly, Inas Rashad, 2012. "How does the business cycle affect eating habits?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(2), pages 254-262.
  14. Grossman, Michael, 2000. "The human capital model," Handbook of Health Economics, in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 7, pages 347-408 Elsevier.
  15. Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson & Jay Bhattacharya, 2005. "Welfare-Enhancing Technological Change and the Growth of Obesity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 253-257, May.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Johanna Catherine Maclean & Jonathan H. Cantor & Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, 2013. "Economic Downturns and Substance Abuse Treatment: Evidence from Admissions Data," NBER Working Papers 19115, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. He, Hui & Huang, Kevin X. D. & Hung, Sheng-Ti, 2014. "Are Recessions Good for Your Health? When Ruhm Meets GHH," Dynare Working Papers 31, CEPREMAP.
  3. Lindo, Jason M. & Schaller, Jessamyn & Hansen, Benjamin, 2013. "Economic Conditions and Child Abuse," IZA Discussion Papers 7355, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Melinda Sandler Morrill & Sabrina Wulff Pabilonia, 2012. "What Effects do Macroeconomic Conditions Have on Families' Time Together?," Working Papers 454, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  5. Gregory J. Colman & Dhaval M. Dave, 2013. "Physical Activity and Health," NBER Working Papers 18858, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Pabilonia, Sabrina Wulff, 2014. "The Effects of the Great Recession on Teenagers' Risky Health Behaviors and Time Use," IZA Discussion Papers 8204, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Tinna Laufey Ásgeirsdóttir & Hope Corman & Kelly Noonan & Þórhildur Ólafsdóttir & Nancy E. Reichman, 2012. "Are Recessions Good for Your Health Behaviors? Impacts of the Economic Crisis in Iceland," NBER Working Papers 18233, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2013. "Recessions, Healthy No More?," NBER Working Papers 19287, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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