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The Physical Strenuousness of Work is Slightly Associated with an Upward Trend in the Body Mass Index


  • Böckerman, Petri

    () (Labour Institute for Economic Research)

  • Johansson, Edvard

    () (Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration)

  • Jousilahti, Pekka

    () (National Public Health Institute)

  • Uutela, Antti

    () (National Public Health Institute)


This paper explores the relationship between the physical strenuousness of work and the body mass index in Finland, using individual microdata over the period 1972-2002. The data contain self-reported information about the physical strenuousness of a respondent’s current occupation. Our estimates show that the changes in the physical strenuousness of work can explain around 8% at most of the definite increase in BMI observed over the period. The main reason for this appears to be that the quantitative magnitude of the effect of the physical strenuousness of work on BMI is rather moderate. Hence, according to the point estimates, BMI is only around 1.5% lower when one’s current occupation is physically very demanding and involves lifting and carrying heavy objects compared with sedentary job (reference group of the estimations), other things being equal. Accordingly, the changes in eating habits and the amount of physical activity during leisure time must be the most important contributors to the upward trend in BMI in industrialised countries, but not the changes in the labour market structure.

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  • Böckerman, Petri & Johansson, Edvard & Jousilahti, Pekka & Uutela, Antti, 2007. "The Physical Strenuousness of Work is Slightly Associated with an Upward Trend in the Body Mass Index," Working Papers 523, Hanken School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhb:hanken:0523

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 93-118, Summer.
    2. Chou, Shin-Yi & Grossman, Michael & Saffer, Henry, 2004. "An economic analysis of adult obesity: results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 565-587, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sjöholm, Hans-Kristian, 2007. "The Impact of New Capital Requirements on the Portfolio Decisions of Finnish Pension Institutions," Working Papers 532, Hanken School of Economics.
    2. Kulp-Tåg, Sofie, 2007. "An Empirical Comparison of Linear and Nonlinear Volatility Models for Nordic Stock Returns," Working Papers 525, Hanken School of Economics.
    3. Strandvik, Tore & Holmlund, Maria & Edvardsson, Bo, 2008. "Customer Needing - Conceptualising Industrial Service from a Customer Perspective," Working Papers 536, Hanken School of Economics.
    4. Wägar, Karolina & Björk, Peter & Ravald, Annika & West, Björn, 2007. "Exploring Marketing in Micro Firms," Working Papers 531, Hanken School of Economics.
    5. Petri Böckerman & Edvard Johansson & Urpo Kiiskinen & Markku Heilövaara, 2010. "Does Physical Capacity Explain the Height Premium?," Working Papers 1074, University of Tampere, School of Management, Economics.
    6. Niklas Ahlgren & Mikael Juselius, 2012. "Tests for cointegration rank and the initial condition," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 42(3), pages 667-691, June.
    7. Segercrantz, Beata, 2007. "Constructing Stability in Software Product Development during Organizational Restructurings," Working Papers 527, Hanken School of Economics.

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    BMI; body mass index; obesity; overweight; occupational structure;

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