The China productivity project: Results and conclusions

A. Theodore Steegmann*, Tian Lin Li, Sharon J. Hewner, Daniel W. Emmer, Wei Sun, William R. Leonard, Xiufen Zhang, Zun Young Liu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Experiments were conducted to determine what factors cause variation in individual work output (economic productivity). Forty-five young male Chinese cycle haulers from Beijing were assessed for physiological work capacity, size and body composition, health, nutritional status, cold resistance, household social environment, and motivation. Experiments were conducted in the laboratory as well as under actual working conditions; ethnographic observations were made in the household and on the job during the Beijing winter of 1992. Overall work motivation correlated to actual monthly distance/load measures of productivity the most strongly (r = 0.518), followed by physiological capacity estimated by heart rate:speed ratio during field experiments (r = -0.473). Alcohol consumption (a negative factor), household health, and carbohydrate intake were all moderate predictors. Maximum oxygen uptake showed lower correlation (r= 0.261), and among anthropometric values only relatively long lower legs were predictive (r = 0.298). Since many of these variable categories were relatively independent of each other, multiple regression analysis showed that together they explained 61.6% of the work output variance. Simultaneous prediction by FASEM (LISREL) is also very strong.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-313
Number of pages19
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 1997


  • Adaptation
  • Alcohol
  • China
  • Health
  • Nutrition
  • Productivity prediction
  • Work behavior
  • Work physiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Anthropology

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