Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
Research Institute of Industrial Economics

No 1180: Exercise Improves Academic Performance

Alexander W Cappelen , Gary Charness , Mathias Ekström (), Uri Gneezy and Bertil Tungodden
Additional contact information
Alexander W Cappelen: The Choice Lab, Postal: NHH Norwegian School of Economics, Bergen
Gary Charness: University of California, Postal: Santa Barbara
Mathias Ekström: The Choice Lab, Postal: NHH Norwegian School of Economics, Bergen, and Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN), Stockholm, Sweden
Uri Gneezy: University of California, Postal: Sand Diego, and CREED, University of Amsterdam
Bertil Tungodden: The Choice Lab, Postal: NHH Norwegian School of Economics, Bergen

Abstract: We report the results of a randomized controlled trial testing whether incentivizing physical exercise improves the academic performance of college students. As expected, the intervention increases physical activity. The main result is that it generates a strong and significant improvement in academic performance, particularly for students who struggled at the baseline in terms of lifestyle habits. We also provide evidence on the underlying mechanisms: Students who were incentivized to exercise have a healthier life style and improved self-control. Overall, the study demonstrates that incentivizing students to exercise can be an important tool in improving educational achievements.

Keywords: C93; I12; I18; I21; Z20

JEL-codes: C93; I12; I18; I21; Z20

49 pages, September 8, 2017

Note: Economics of education; Human capital formation; Behavior change; Field experiment

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