January 2018

IZA DP No. 11268: For Better or Worse? The Effects of Physical Education on Child Development

Michael C. Knaus, Michael Lechner, Anne K. Reimers

published in: Labour Economics, 2020, 67, 1010904

This study analyses the effects of regular physical education at school on cognitive skills, non-cognitive skills, motor skills, physical activity, and health. It is based on a very informative data set, the German Motorik-Modul, and identifies the effect by using variation in the required numbers of physical education lessons across and within German federal states. The results show improvements in cognitive skills. Boys' non-cognitive skills are adversely affected driven by increased peer relation problems. For girls, the results suggest improvements in motor skills and increased extra-curricular physical activities. Generally, we find no statistically significant effects on health parameters.