Lifelong physical activity and long-term labor market performance


M.Sc. (Econ.) Jaana Kari defends her doctoral dissertation in Economics ”Lifelong physical activity and long-term labor market outcomes”. The opponent is Professor Ismo Linnosmaa (University of Eastern Finland) and the custos Professor Jaakko Pehkonen (University of Jyväskylä). The public examination of the doctoral dissertation is held in Finnish, and the doctoral dissertation will be published in English.

Jan 26, 2017 12:00
Location: University of Jyväskylä, Seminaarinmäki, Old festival hall (S212)

In recent years workforce’s ability to work has gained more interest. Behind the attention are deteriorating dependency rate, increasing amounts of sickness absences, early retirements and disability pensions. On the other hand, physical inactivity is a major public health challenge in Finland. Most of the children, adolescents and working age population do not meet the minimum recommendation of daily physical activity. Despite such interest, the relationship between lifelong physical activity and different labor market outcomes is unknown.

The objective of the study is to identify the effects of lifelong physical activity on long-term labor market performance. The aim is to investigate how the level of physical activity in childhood, youth and adulthood translates into different labor market outcomes in adulthood. After that the magnitudes of the effects, costs and benefits of physical activity, physical inactivity and sedentary behavior on long-term labor market performance will be demonstrated.

Study populations and methods

The data is obtained from the Young Finns Study (YFS). The population of this study consisted of a random sample of boys and girls aged 3, 6, 9, 12, 15 and 18. In 1980, 3596 boys and girls participated in the baseline study. Study has been done in seven follow-up phases (1983, 1986, 1989, 1992, 2001, 2007 and 2011). In 2011, the study objects’ were between 34-49 years. The data contains various physical activity (subjective and objective) and labor market variables.

The data will be matched to the Finnish Longitudinal Employer-Employee Data (FLEED) of Statistics Finland. This enables tracking of the labor market behavior of the individuals in YFS over time. The outcome variables are educational attainment, productivity and the nature of retirements (disability pensions and early retirements).

The explanatory variable, physical activity, is measured both by self-report and objectively (in years 2007 and 2011). For the analyses, standard statistical methods including various linear, non-linear and instrumental variable (IV) methods will be used. Endogenity problems will be taken into account seriously. The longitudinal dimension allows the use of panel analysis to control the unexplained time-invariant individual heterogeneity.

Exploitation of results

The study produces new information about the causality between physical activity and long-term labor market performance. This information is needed if economic calculations due to physical inactivity will be prepared. Results can also be used to support the promotion of physical activity among schoolchildren and working age population, for example in national programs (the Finnish Schools on the Move Program and Fit for Life Program). Life-course perspective, longitudinal study, major labor economic variables and objective measures of key variables make this study unique and novel from both national and international perspective.

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