Productivity and Health: Physical Activity as a Measure of Effort

45 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2020

See all articles by Oladele Akogun

Oladele Akogun

Modibbo Adama University of Technology

Andrew Dillon

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management

Jed Friedman

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG); World Bank Group

Ashesh Prasann

World Bank

Pieter M. Serneels

University of Oxford - Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE)

Date Written: January 2020

Abstract

We study the relationship between physical activity as a direct measure of effort and productivity. First, we evaluate the association of agricultural workers’ physical activity with their daily productivity, which is directly observed from company personnel piece-rate payment records, and find a positive correlation. Second, we estimate the impact of a health intervention that provides malaria testing and treatment on physical activity and productivity. The results indicate that the increased daily productivity of malaria positive workers who are offered this program is explained by worker effort reallocation from lower intensity to higher intensity work. This demonstrates that, when individual productivity is observed, physical activity measures can help disentangle productivity effects that are attributable to effort. When productivity is unobserved, physical activity measures may proxy for productivity in physically demanding tasks. We discuss challenges and limitations of physical activity measurement, their potential use for alternative contexts, and the importance of field and data analysis protocols.

Keywords: labor productivity, physical activity, malaria, field experiment

JEL Classification: I12, J22, J24, O12

Suggested Citation

Akogun, Oladele and Dillon, Andrew and Friedman, Jed Arnold and Prasann, Ashesh and Serneels, Pieter M., Productivity and Health: Physical Activity as a Measure of Effort (January 2020). Global Poverty Research Lab Working Paper No. 20-101. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3529752 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3529752

Oladele Akogun

Modibbo Adama University of Technology

P.M.B 2076
Yola
Nigeria

Andrew Dillon (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

Jed Arnold Friedman

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

1818 H. Street, N.W.
MSN3-311
Washington, DC 20433
United States

World Bank Group ( email )

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Ashesh Prasann

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Pieter M. Serneels

University of Oxford - Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE) ( email )

Oxford OX1 3UL
United Kingdom

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