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Fatter Attraction: Marital Status and the Relationship between BMI and Labor Supply

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  • Sonia Oreffice

    (University of Alicante)

  • Climent Quintana-Domeque

    (Universitat d’Alacant & FEDEA)

Abstract

We empirically analyze the labor supply choices of married men and women according to their body size (BMI), using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics on anthropometric characteristics of both spouses, and unmarried men and women as comparison group. Heavier husbands are found to work significantly more hours and earn more labor income, controlling for both spouses’ demographic and socioeconomic characteristics. Conversely, no such effect is found for either unmarried individuals or for married women. We suggest a marriage market mechanism through which male BMI and earnings are positively related. Heavier married men compensate for their negative physical trait by providing their wives with more disposable income, working more hours and earning more. Heavier women may not able to compensate their spouse through labor supply, as female physical traits are more relevant in the marriage market than the corresponding male traits.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei in its series Working Papers with number 2009.116.

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Date of creation: Dec 2009
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Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2009.116

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Keywords: Body Size; Labor Supply; Earnings; Marriage;

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  1. John Cawley & John Moran & Kosali Simon, 2010. "The impact of income on the weight of elderly Americans," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(8), pages 979-993, August.
  2. Brunello, Giorgio & D'Hombres, Beatrice, 2007. "Does body weight affect wages?: Evidence from Europe," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 1-19, March.
  3. Atella, Vincenzo & Pace, Noemi & Vuri, Daniela, 2008. "Are employers discriminating with respect to weight?: European Evidence using Quantile Regression," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 305-329, December.
  4. Climent Quintana Domeque & Sonia Oreffice, 2010. "Anthropometry and socioeconomics in the couple: evidence from the PSID," Working Papers. Serie AD 2010-16, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
  5. Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson, 2007. "Labor Supply and Weight," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(1).
  6. Maximilian D. Schmeiser, 2009. "Expanding wallets and waistlines: the impact of family income on the BMI of women and men eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(11), pages 1277-1294.
  7. Chou, Shin-Yi & Grossman, Michael & Saffer, Henry, 2004. "An economic analysis of adult obesity: results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 565-587, May.
  8. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2003. "Healthy Living in Hard Times," NBER Working Papers 9468, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. John Cawley, 2004. "The Impact of Obesity on Wages," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
  10. Jaume Garcia Villar & Climent Quintana-Domeque, 2006. "Income and body mass index in Europe," Economics Working Papers 1001, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised May 2008.
  11. Averett, Susan L. & Sikora, Asia & Argys, Laura M., 2008. "For better or worse: Relationship status and body mass index," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 330-349, December.
  12. Marjorie L. Baldwin & Lester A. Zeager & Paul R. Flacco, 1994. "Gender Differences in Wage Losses from Impairments: Estimates from the Survey of Income and Program Participation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(3), pages 865-887.
  13. Susan Averett & Sanders Korenman, 1996. "The Economic Reality of the Beauty Myth," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(2), pages 304-330.
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