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Genetic information, obesity, and labor market outcomes

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  • Edward C. Norton
  • Euna Han

    (Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA)

Abstract

Economists have argued that obesity may lead to worse labor market outcomes, especially for women. Empirical methods to test this hypothesis have not thus far adequately controlled for the endogeneity of obesity. We use variation in genotype to predict variation in phenotype (obesity). Genetic information from specific genes linked to obesity in the biomedical literature provides strong exogenous variation in the body mass index and thus can be used as instrumental variables. These genes predict swings in weight of between 5 and 20 pounds for persons between five and six feet tall. We use additional genetic information to control for omitted variables correlated with both obesity and labor market outcomes. We analyzed data from the third wave of the Add Health data set, when respondents are in their mid-twenties. Results from our preferred models show no effect of lagged obesity on the probability of employment or on wages, for either men or women. This paper shows the potential of using genetic information in social sciences. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Health Economics.

Volume (Year): 17 (2008)
Issue (Month): 9 ()
Pages: 1089-1104

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Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:17:y:2008:i:9:p:1089-1104

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Web page: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/jhome/5749

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  1. David Cutler & Edward Glaeser & Jesse Shapiro, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese?," NBER Working Papers 9446, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Shapiro, Jesse & Glaeser, Edward & Cutler, David, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese," Scholarly Articles 2640583, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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  18. Euna Han & Edward C. Norton & Sally C. Stearns, 2009. "Weight and wages: fat versus lean paychecks," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(5), pages 535-548.
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