Edited by Eva Marikova Leeds and Michael A. Leeds
The health and social benefits from regular participation in sport and physical recreation activity are well known. Only recently, however, have economists begun to analyze the motivations and constraints that determine an individual’s allocation of time to sport and exercise. For example, Humphreys and Ruseski (2009 and 2010) analyze the economics of physical activity in the United States and Canada, respectively, while Farrell and Shields (2002) do the same for England. Governments at all levels in Australia have become increasingly active in encouraging people to adopt physical activities as a regular part of their lifestyle. However, there has been little formal study of what factors govern individual choices involving physical activity. This chapter uses data compiled by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to motivate a simple model of how Australian men and women decide whether to undertake physical activity, and, if they do, how they choose which activity to pursue. The data, contained in the report ‘Women in Sport’ (ABS, 2009), detail the differences in how men and women allocate their time across a variety of physical activities and how these choices change over the life cycle. The survey population starts at age 15, and the survey defines a ‘sport participant’ as a person who physically undertakes the activity. Hence, individuals in non-playing roles, such as coaches or referees, are not regarded as participants. The survey also documents both why people choose to exercise or not to exercise.
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