The Long-Run Effects of Sports Club Vouchers for Primary School Children
Nicolas R. Ziebarth
- American Economic Journal: Economic Policy (Forthcoming)
Childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century.
While small-scale experiments change behaviors among adults in the short-run, we know
little about the effectiveness of large-scale policies or the longer-run impacts due to habit
formation among children. To nudge primary school children into a long-term habit of exercising,
the German state of Saxony distributed sports club membership vouchers among
all 33,000 third graders in 2009. In 2018, we carried out a register-based survey to evaluate
the policy. Even after a decade, awareness of the voucher program was significantly
higher in the treatment group. We also find that youth received and redeemed the vouchers.
However, we do not find significant short- or long-term effects on sports club membership,
physical activity, overweightness, or motor skills. Apparently, membership vouchers for
children are not a strong enough policy tool to overcome barriers to exercise regularly.
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