EQOL Journal (2016) 8(2): 3-8
Socio-economic characteristics of families and physical activity of
Zoran Milosevic1• Nebojsa Maksimovic1 • Ivana Milovanovic1 • Radenko Matic1
Damjan Jaksic1• Jovan Vukovic1
© The Author(s) 2016. This article is published with open access
Keywords Socio-economic characteristics
Children Family Physical activity
This study presents the results of empirical research
conducted with the aim of analyzing differences in
the physical activity of children in relation to the
socio-economic characteristics of their families. The
research was conducted by applying a questionnaire
Socio-economic characteristics, and the inequalities
distributed to pupils aged 11-12 years, who live in
within them, are among the current topics in
the city of Novi Sad (the city and the village of
academic research focused on the development of
Rumenka, Veternik, Kac, Bukovac, Futog). Bearing
children and youth
(Mollborn, Lawrence, James-
in mind that the work is a part of a broader research,
Hawkins, & Fomby, 2013). The social sciences
the authors' attention was focused on the objective,
continuously conduct research aimed at discovering
and the evaluation of the respondents on the socio-
as clear indicators of genetically inherited and even
economic status of the family, as well as differences
more intensely socially conditioned factors as
in physical activity among boys and girls, and
possible, that affect the overall cognitive, socio-
children who live in urban or rural setting. As
emotional and physical development of the youngest
dominant in this study stands out the finding of the
part of the population. In this regard, this study
author that the socioeconomic characteristics of
presents an empirical annex to the mentioned set of
families significantly affect the intensity, form and
research, given the focus of authors' attention on the
quality of physical activity of children. Since such a
relation of some socio-economic characteristics of
finding puts children living in families with low
the family and physical activity of schoolchildren in
socioeconomic status into a disadvantaged position,
the city of Novi Sad.
the authors believe that with the findings of this and
compatible researches it is needed to familiarize
Insight into the published academic papers
indicates the actuality of topics and diversity of
with the wider academic community, in order to
directions in which the authors perceive the issue of
include other social institutions in the process of
affirmation of physical activity as an important
physical activity of children and more concrete
relation of socio-economic status of families on one
lifestyle quality in children and youth.
hand and anthropometric features, motor behavior
and intellectual ability on the other. In these studies
(Strauss, Rodzilsky, Burack, & Colin,
Scheerder, Vanreusel, Taks, & Renson,
Brodersen, Steptoe, Boniface, & Wardle,
Maksimovic, Matic, & Obradovic,
2009; Matic,
Kuljic, & Maksimovic,
2010; De Cocker et al.,
2012; Klein, Fröhlich, Pieter, & Emrich,
University of Novi Sad, Faculty of Sport and
among other things, we find some key factors that
Physical Education
can influence the physical activity of children. It is
EQOL Journal (2016) 8(2): 3-8
the individual factors, family
(that is appropriate
family support), peers
(adequate support), school
(education), local community (low or high economic
The sample of respondents in the research included
467 boys and 464 girls (N=931) aged 11-12 years
The family as the basic social community, and
(5th grade pupils of primary schools), of which
the nearest environment in which children develop is
48.5% of respondents come from villages
crucial for the overall development of children, and
(Rumenka, Veternik, Kac , Bukovac, Futog) and
therefore the results in the field of physical activity
51.5% from the city of Novi Sad.
(Mayer, 2002; Giulianotti 2008). As children often
Evaluation of physical activity entailed the scale
learn by observing the behavior of people in their
format from 0 to 7, depending on the frequency of
immediate environment, not surprising are the
the respondent's doing of varying intensity of
observations that the children of parents who have
physical activity on a weekly basis
already achieved results in sport are themselves
(not walking) and intense physical
physically active and successful in this area
(Giulianotti, 2008). Contrary to such families, there
are also those where a parent due to various reasons,
Socio-economic characteristics were evaluated
is not pointed to the importance of practicing
based on the issues related to one aspect of socio-
physical activity, resulting in a gradual loss of
economic status, that is the economic well-being of
families, which indirectly reflects families' income.
children's interest in sport
(Matic, Kuljic, &
Maksimovic, 2010).
This segment of the research included the following
“Does your family own a car or a
Peer influence is also important, and in
van?”, 2) “Do you have your own room?” 3) “How
adolescence certainly primary for general
many computers are in possession of your family?”
development, including physical activity of children
4) “How many bathrooms do you have at home?” 5)
(Rowland, 1999; Sallis, Prochaska, & Taylor, 2000).
“Does your family own a dishwasher?” and 6) “How
Finally, institutional support through activities at
many times did you and your family travel on
school or at the level of clubs in local governments
vacation outside of Serbia last year?” Summarizing
is the last round of incentives of children to physical
the obtained results, all respondents were classified
activity by the wider community. However, recently,
into 3 formed categories of socioeconomic status:
among these factors socioeconomic status of the
low (0-4), intermediate (5-9) and high (10 and over).
family has clearly separated as dominant. In the
These results were supplemented by respondents'
Serbian society, the reason for such situation is the
own assessment of families' wealth. Question
general pauperization of the population, decades-
implied a scale of responses: 0-no, 1-yes, 1 vehicle,
long influence of which is visible in all areas of
2-yes, two or more vehicles. Questions
2 and 5
social life. As physical activity is not among the
presented dichotomous variables (0-no, 1-yes), while
existential human needs, we can assume that in
questions 3, 4 and 6 implied the scale format with
families of lower socioeconomic status from the
the following answers: 1) none, 2) one, 3) two, or 4)
perspective of parents, it does not occupy the
more than two.
primary place. On the other hand, the measures
taken by parents directly affect the intensity and
The statistical data analysis of differences among
quality of physical activity, and long term general
the respondents belonging to different categories of
psycho-physical development of children.
socioeconomic status used Kruskal-Wallis and Man-
Whitney tests.
With this in mind, our attention in this study is
focused on the socio-economic context as a factor of
influence on physical activity of schoolchildren in
Results and Discussion
the city of Novi Sad and the surrounding places.
More specifically, the aim of the research is to
The descriptive statistics in Table
1 show the
analyze the differences in the physical activity of
following representation of respondents defined by
children in relation to the socio-economic
socio-economic categories: middle
(65.2%), high
characteristics of their families.
(24.6%), and low (10.2%) socio-economic status.
EQOL Journal (2016) 8(2): 3-8
Table 1. Socio-economic characteristics of respondents
Socio-economic category
Low status
Middle status
High status
How well-off/wealthy is the
Not at all
Not really
Weekly physical activity
Moderate physical Intensive physical
(% of N)
activity (% of N)
activity (% of N)
However, it is interesting that the estimation of
The presented results suggest that gender differences in
wealth of the family of the respondents showed
doing intensive forms of physical activity are in favor
slightly different results: the low status
of the boys. These results correspond to the results of
answers - not at all and not really), middle (43.8%,
previously completed studies
(Alexandre, Obert,
answer - average) and high (51%, answers - really,
Bonnet, & Courteix, 2003; Djordjic, 2006; Djordjic &
very), which indicates that respondents consider the
Krneta, 2007; Djordjic & Matic, 2008), which indicate
socio-economic status of their families to a certain
the increased willingness of parents of preschool and
extent higher than it is objectively observed
early-school ages to encourage children to engage in
according to the socio-economic parameters. This
physical activity. There is also more intense
result can be attributed to the comparison of the
stimulation of boys than girls to engage in physical
socio-economic status of their families with the
activity, which is an important indicator of cultural and
families of children from the immediate
gender-stereotyped perception of doing sports
environment, which is a logical aspect of this kind of
activities. Earlier research carried out on a sample of
evaluation in the age category of the respondents.
children of higher primary school grades show
themselves that boys and girls differently assess sport
The next step was a comparative statistical
and their own competencies in sport
(Djordjic &
analysis of the data, which was started by analyzing
2007). The result of the aforementioned
the differences in the levels of physical activity in
gender-stereotyping suggests that girls attach to sport
relation to gender, and is presented in Table 2.
some masculine traits. Djordjic and Matic
Table 2. Analysis of the differences in the levels of physical
pointed out that “boys feel more competent in sports,
activity by gender of the respondents
prefer competition and physical challenge more than
girls, and that they do sports in clubs to a significantly
Mean Rank
greater extent than girls. Finally, they note the
significantly lower number of female sporting role
models”. As the results of this study correspond with
Moderate physical activity
the results of research already completed, it can be seen
Intensive physical activity
as an indicator of insufficient engagement of parents,
** < 0.01 - Man-Whitney test
teachers and children themselves in the meantime.
EQOL Journal (2016) 8(2): 3-8
The obtained results of the difference analysis of characteristics are shown in Table 3.
respondents in relation to their socio-economic
Table 3. Differences in respondents by socio-economic characteristics
socio-economic characteristics
Mean Rank
1 - low, 2 - middle i 3 - high status
Moderate physical activity
Intensive physical activity
* 0.05, ** < 0,01 - Kruskal Wallis test
subsamples, a < 0.01, b < 0.05 - Man Whitney test
Based on the obtained results, it can be concluded
Table 4. Analysis of difference in physical activity of
that statistically significant differences in all variables
respondents by place of residence
of physical activity in respondents of different socio-
Mean Rank
economic characteristics are in favor of children whose
families belong to the highest category of socio-
economic status, while the respondents whose families
Moderate physical activity
belong to low and middle status reported no
Intensive physical activity
statistically significant differences. These results
** < 0.01 - Man Whitney test
correspond to the factors of influence on physical
According to the results from Table 4, it can be
activity in children, which were mentioned in the first
concluded that moderate physical activity in the
part of the study. On one hand it can be assumed that
respondents from rural areas were statistically
the parents of children who are now more physically
significantly more active than the population of
active turned their attention to a significant extent to
children in the city. These results were expected,
that part of the everyday of their children in the
considering that the village as a socio-cultural context,
preschool and early school age, and thus further
due to the absence of large, busy streets and modern
developed the working habit in children who are now
children gives more freedom to spend time in
physically active independently, without the support of
organized or spontaneous activities outside the house.
the adults. In less active children, it can be assumed
This is not the case in the city, where the children's
that the parents due to the low socio-economic status of
everyday life from an early age is conditioned by
the family did not have the conditions, nor considered a
circumstances of parents to spend time together or take
priority at the stage of primary socialization of their
children to organized sports trainings. On the other
children to point to physical activity as part of a future
hand, the range of activities that the city offers is
lifestyle. Finally, it can be assumed that some of the
significantly wider than in the village, which is why,
children at the stage of adolescence distance
beside sports and music schools, children often attend a
themselves from physical activities, diverting their
school of foreign language, mathematics, art, go to the
resources to develop other talents or skills, which can
cinema and theater. Thus, physical activity becomes an
be encountered in literature (see: Rowland 1999). The
option for urban, and one of the dominant in rural
need of adolescents to conform, due to peer pressure,
environment. Generally, the village and the city as a
except in cases where doing sport has become an
important part of the lifestyle of the child, in everyday
opportunities for development, which is reflected in the
life, will distance children rather than make them
manner of growing up and life style of children.
closer to physical activity.
Physical activity is one of the indicators of these
Further statistical analysis determined to what
manifest differences.
extent the respondents' place of residence differs the
If the results of our study should be summarized in
respondents from the aspect of physical activity (Table
one sentence, it would read:
characteristics of families significantly affect the
intensity, form and quality of physical activity of
children”. Such a conclusion is compatible with the
results of previously published studies
(La Torre,
Masala, De Vito, Arzano, Fargione, & Capelli, 2003;
EQOL Journal (2016) 8(2): 3-8
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Matic, Kuljic, & Maksimovic, 2010; Kuljic, Matic, &
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