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Longitudinal Study: LSAC
Title: Causal Impact of Physical Activity on Child Health and Development
Authors: Nguyen, Ha Trong 
Christian, Hayley
Le, Huong 
Connelly, Luke Brian 
Mitrou, Francis 
Zubrick, Stephen R. 
Institution: Institute for Social Science Research, The University of Queensland
Publication Date: 27-Jun-2022
Pages: 67
Keywords: Time allocation
physical activity
time use diary
child development
instrumental variable
panel data
Abstract: The relationship between physical activity and child health and development is well-documented, yet the extant literature provides limited causal insight into the amount of physical activity considered optimal for improving any given health or developmental outcome. This paper exploits exogenous variations in local weather conditions observed across random time use diary dates for the same individuals over time to investigate the causal impact of physical activity on a comprehensive set of health, non-cognitive development, and academic outcomes of children and adolescents. Applying an individual fixed-effects instrumental variables model to a nationally representative panel dataset from Australia, we find that physical activity leads to widespread benefits in child development. These include improved health, social and emotional development, and lower health expenditure. The results further indicate that physical activity offers greater developmental benefits for females. However, we find no evidence that physical activity improves academic performance. Our study highlights that the 'optimal' amount of time that children and adolescents should spend physically active each day varies by the health or non-cognitive development outcome of interest. The results are robust to a series of specification and sensitivity tests, including an over-identification test and controlling for weather conditions recorded on the day when development outcomes were assessed.
DOI: 10.2139/ssrn.4131017
Research collection: Reports and technical papers
Appears in Collections:Technical Papers

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