Estimating the Global Economic Benefits of Physically Active Populations Over 30 Years (2020–2050)

Published in: British Journal of Sports Medicine, Volume 54, pages 1482–1487 (2020). doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2020-102590

Posted on RAND.org on December 01, 2020

by Marco Hafner, Erez Yerushalmi, Martin Stepanek, William D. Phillips, Jack Pollard, Advait Deshpande, Michael Whitmore, Francois Millard, Shaun Subel, Christian Van Stolk

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Objectives

We assess the potential benefits of increased physical activity for the global economy for 23 countries and the rest of the world from 2020 to 2050. The main factors taken into account in the economic assessment are excess mortality and lower productivity.

Methods

This study links three methodologies. First, we estimate the association between physical inactivity and workplace productivity using multivariable regression models with proprietary data on 120,143 individuals in the UK and six Asian countries (Australia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore and Sri Lanka). Second, we analyse the association between physical activity and mortality risk through a meta-regression analysis with data from 74 prior studies with global coverage. Finally, the estimated effects are combined in a computable general equilibrium macroeconomic model to project the economic benefits of physical activity over time.

Results

Doing at least 150 min of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, as per lower limit of the range recommended by the 2020 WHO guidelines, would lead to an increase in global gross domestic product (GDP) of 0.15%–0.24% per year by 2050, worth up to US$314–446 billion per year and US$6.0–8.6 trillion cumulatively over the 30-year projection horizon (in 2019 prices). The results vary by country due to differences in baseline levels of physical activity and GDP per capita.

Conclusions

Increasing physical activity in the population would lead to reduction in working-age mortality and morbidity and an increase in productivity, particularly through lower presenteeism, leading to substantial economic gains for the global economy.

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