Work out or out of work - The labor market return to physical fitness and leisure sports activities

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This study is the first to present evidence of the return to leisure sports in the job hiring process by sending fictitious applications to real job openings in the Swedish labor market. In the field experiment job applicants were randomly given different information about their type and level of leisure sports. Applicants who signaled sports skills had a significantly higher callback rate of about 2 percentage points, and this effect was about twice as large for physically demanding occupations. Additional evidence of a sports premium in the regular labor market is arrived at when analyzing the long-run impact of physical fitness on later labor market outcomes. The analysis uses register data on adult earnings and physical fitness when enlisting at age 18. The fitness premium, net of unobservable family variables, is in the order of 4-5%, but diminishes to 2% when controlling for non-cognitive skills. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


  • Dan-Olof Rooth
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Economics


  • Leisure sports, Physical fitness, Cardiovascular fitness, Correspondence testing, Earnings
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-409
JournalLabour Economics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Publication categoryResearch