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Racial, Ethnic and Gender Differences in Physical Activity

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  • Henry Saffer
  • Dhaval M. Dave
  • Michael Grossman

Abstract

This study examines racial, ethnic and gender differentials in physical activity. Individuals engage in physical activity during leisure-time and also during in many other activities such as walking to work, home maintenance, shopping and child care. Physical activity also occurs on the job is this is referred to as work physical activity. Prior studies have shown that non-work physical activity has a positive impact on health while work physical activity has a negative impact on health. Many prior studies have relied primarily on leisure-time physical activity, which typically constitutes only about 10% of non-work physical activity and does not capture specific information on the intensity or duration of the activity. This study addresses these limitations by constructing measures of physical activity from the American Time Use Surveys, which are all-inclusive and capture the duration of each activity combined with its intensity based on the Metabolic Equivalent of Task (MET). Non-work physical activity tends to be significantly lower for Blacks, Hispanics, other racial groups than for Whites and lower for males than for females. These adjusted differentials are consistent with racial, ethnic and gender differentials in health. About 25-46% of the differentials in non-work physical activity can be attributed to differences in education, socio-economic status, proxies for time constraints, and locational attributes.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17413
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Maruyama, Shiko & Yin, Qing, 2012. "The opportunity cost of exercise: Do higher-earning Australians exercise longer, harder, or both?," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 106(2), pages 187-194.
    2. Gregory J. Colman & Dhaval M. Dave, 2013. "Physical Activity and Health," NBER Working Papers 18858, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Zhao, Zhenxiang & Kaestner, Robert, 2010. "Effects of urban sprawl on obesity," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 779-787, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Colman, Gregory & Dave, Dhaval, 2013. "Exercise, physical activity, and exertion over the business cycle," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 11-20.
    2. Gregory Colman & Dhaval Dave, 2014. "Unemployment and Health Behaviors Over the Business Cycle: a Longitudinal View," NBER Working Papers 20748, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Inas Kelly & Dhaval Dave & Jody Sindelar & William Gallo, 2014. "The impact of early occupational choice on health behaviors," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 12(4), pages 737-770, December.
    4. Farrell, Lisa & Hollingsworth, Bruce & Propper, Carol & Shields, Michael A., 2014. "The socioeconomic gradient in physical inactivity: Evidence from one million adults in England," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 123(C), pages 55-63.
    5. Joelle Abramowitz, 2016. "The connection between working hours and body mass index in the U.S.: a time use analysis," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 131-154, March.
    6. Lisa Farrell & Bruce Hollingsworth & Carol Propper & Michael A Shields, 2013. "The Socioeconomic Gradient in Physical Inactivity in England," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 13/311, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
    7. Bhat, Chandra R. & Pinjari, Abdul R. & Dubey, Subodh K. & Hamdi, Amin S., 2016. "On accommodating spatial interactions in a Generalized Heterogeneous Data Model (GHDM) of mixed types of dependent variables," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 240-263.
    8. Gregory J. Colman & Dhaval M. Dave, 2013. "Physical Activity and Health," NBER Working Papers 18858, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior

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