Productivity and Health: Physical Activity as a Measure of Effort
45 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2020
Date Written: January 2020
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: Suggested Citation