Physical activity and employment decisions under working hours inflexibility

TitlePhysical activity and employment decisions under working hours inflexibility
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsLoh, C-PA
Date Published2004
UniversityUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
KeywordsEmployment and Labor Force, Healthcare

Although the substantial health benefits of physical activity have long been known to the public, most U.S. adults do not engage in frequent physical activity. Lack of time is one of the most frequently cited reasons for the failure to engage in exercise. However, the potential role of lifestyle and labor market factors in contributing to this shortage of time for exercise has never been carefully examined. This dissertation investigates how restrictions on the number of working hours affect an individual's likelihood of engaging in frequent physical activity. In the theoretical section, a complete set of employment scenarios is structurally described and a comparative static analysis is used to demonstrate the effect of a working hours constraint on physical activity under different scenarios. It is also shown that the effect of a constraint varies with the degree of disparity between required and desired working time. In the empirical model, the exercise decision is modeled under both flexible and inflexible labor market circumstances. To address the selection problem associated with the effect of a constraint on an individual's time allocation, this study allows the employment decision to be structurally determined by the imposition of a working hours constraint, the available number of working hours, the desired level of labor supply, and the utility comparison between work alternatives. The model is estimated using a sample from the first wave of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) of males between 51 and 61 years of age. The working hours constraint is found to reduce the amount of physical activity for the overemployed and increase it for the underemployed. The effect grows as the difference between offered and desired number of hours increases. Simulation results suggest that constraints on working hours have reduced the overall rate of frequent physical activity by 2.5 to 5%. In other words, they are responsible for the inactiveness of approximately 6 to 12% of the older population represented by my sample. The obvious implication of the results is that regulating or eliminating working hour constraints may be a policy option to promote frequent physical activity.

Endnote Keywords

Health Sciences, Public Health (0573)

Endnote ID


Short TitlePhysical activity and employment decisions under working hours inflexibility
Citation Key6427