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Leisure-time physical activity is associated with socio-economic status beyond income – Cross-sectional survey of the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 study

Sanna Huikari, Hanna Junttila, Leena Ala-Mursula, Timo Jämsä, Raija Korpelainen, Jouko Miettunen, Rauli Svento and Marko Korhonen ()

Economics & Human Biology, 2021, vol. 41, issue C

Abstract: We apply neoclassical economic modelling augmented with behavioral aspects to provide a detailed empirical investigation into indicators of socio-economic status (SES) as determinants of leisure-time physical activity. We utilize the data from the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 obtained at the most recent time point during 2012–2014 (response rate 67 %), at which time the participants were approximately 46 years old. Our final study sample consists of 3,335 employed participants (1520 men, 1815 women; 32.3 % of the target population). We apply logistic regression methods for estimating how the probability of being physically active is related to various indicators of socio-economic status, taking into account physical activity at work and individual lifestyle, family- and health-related factors. Overall, our findings show that belonging to a higher socio-economic group, whether defined by income level, educational attainment, or occupational status, is associated with higher leisure-time physical activity. However, when we analyze different socio-economic groups, defined in terms of education, income and occupation, separately, we find that income is not a significant determinant of leisure-time physical activity within any of the particular SES groups. Further, we find that leisure-time physical activity is negatively associated with higher screen time (i.e., watching TV and sitting at a computer), and other aspects of unhealthy lifestyle, and positively associated with self-assessed health. In addition, we note that proxies for individual motivational factors and childhood physical activity, such as the grade point average and the grade achieved in physical education when leaving basic education, are strongly correlated with leisure-time physical activity in middle age among men, but not among women. Our results are in line with behavioral economics reasoning that social comparisons and environments affect behaviors. We emphasize the importance of considering behavioral economic factors when designing policies to promote physical activity.

Keywords: Physical activity; Income; Cohort study; Logistic regression; Health; Socio-economic status (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C25 I12 J3 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:41:y:2021:i:c:s1570677x20302392

DOI: 10.1016/j.ehb.2020.100969

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