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No Country for Fat Men? Obesity, Earnings, Skills, and Health among 450,000 Swedish Men

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Author Info

  • Lundborg, Petter

    ()
    (Lund University)

  • Nystedt, Paul

    ()
    (Linköping University)

  • Rooth, Dan-Olof

    ()
    (Linnaeus University)

Abstract

The negative association between obesity and labor market outcomes has been widely documented, yet little is known about the mechanisms through which the association arises. Using rich and unique data on 450,000 Swedish men enlisting for the military, we find that the crude obesity penalty in earnings, which amounts to about 18 percent, is linked to supply-side characteristics that are associated with both earnings and obesity. In particular, we show that the penalty reflects negative associations between obesity, on the one hand, and cognitive skills, non-cognitive skills, and physical fitness, on the other. Our results suggest that employers use obesity as a marker for skill limitations in order to statistically discriminate.

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File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp4775.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4775.

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Length: 41 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: forthcoming in: Demography
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4775

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Related research

Keywords: non-cognitive ability; cognitive ability; earnings; overweight; obesity; health; physical fitness;

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References

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  1. Lundborg, Petter & Nystedt, Paul & Rooth, Dan-Olof, 2009. "The Height Premium in Earnings: The Role of Physical Capacity and Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Skills," IZA Discussion Papers 4266, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Nicola Persico & Andrew Postlewaite & Dan Silverman, 2004. "The Effect of Adolescent Experience on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Height," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(5), pages 1019-1053, October.
  3. Neal, Derek A & Johnson, William R, 1996. "The Role of Premarket Factors in Black-White Wage Differences," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 869-95, October.
  4. John Cawley & C. Katharina Spiess, 2008. "Obesity and Skill Attainment in Early Childhood," NBER Working Papers 13997, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. John Cawley, 2004. "The Impact of Obesity on Wages," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
  6. Susan Averett & Sanders Korenman, 1993. "The Economic Reality of the Beauty Myth," NBER Working Papers 4521, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Thomas, Duncan & Strauss, John, 1997. "Health and wages: Evidence on men and women in urban Brazil," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 159-185, March.
  8. Giorgio Brunello & Pierre-Carl Michaud & Anna Sanz-de-Galdeano, 2008. "The Rise in Obesity Across the Atlantic: An Economic Perspective," Working Papers 586, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  9. Heckman, James J., 2008. "Schools, Skills, and Synapses," IZA Discussion Papers 3515, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2006. "Stature and status: Height, ability, and labor market outcomes," Working Papers 232, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  11. Currie, Janet & Madrian, Brigitte C., 1999. "Health, health insurance and the labor market," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 50, pages 3309-3416 Elsevier.
  12. Cawley, John & Heckman, James & Vytlacil, Edward, 2001. "Three observations on wages and measured cognitive ability," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 419-442, September.
  13. Lex Borghans & Angela Lee Duckworth & James J. Heckman & Bas ter Weel, 2008. "The Economics and Psychology of Personality Traits," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(4).
  14. Borghans Lex & Lee Duckworth Angela & Heckman James J. & Weel Bas ter, 2008. "The Economics and Psychology of Personality Traits," ROA Research Memorandum 001, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).
  15. Euna Han & Edward C. Norton & Sally C. Stearns, 2009. "Weight and wages: fat versus lean paychecks," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(5), pages 535-548.
  16. Giorgio Brunello & Beatrice d'Hombres, 2006. "Does Body Weight affect Wages? Evidence from Europe," "Marco Fanno" Working Papers 0027, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche "Marco Fanno".
  17. James J. Heckman & Jora Stixrud & Sergio Urzua, 2006. "The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 411-482, July.
  18. repec:dgr:unumer:2008010 is not listed on IDEAS
  19. Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson & Jay Bhattacharya, 2005. "Welfare-Enhancing Technological Change and the Growth of Obesity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 253-257, May.
  20. repec:dgr:umaror:2008001 is not listed on IDEAS
  21. Yona Rubinstein & James J. Heckman, 2001. "The Importance of Noncognitive Skills: Lessons from the GED Testing Program," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 145-149, May.
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Citations

Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. No Country for Fat Men?
    by Ariel Goldring in Free Market Mojo on 2010-03-08 12:29:42
Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
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Cited by:
  1. Lindeboom, Maarten & Lundborg, Petter & van der Klaauw, Bas, 2010. "Assessing the impact of obesity on labor market outcomes," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 309-319, December.
  2. Dackehag, Margareta & Gerdtham, Ulf-G & Nordin, Martin, 2011. "Productivity or discrimination? An economic analysis of excess-weight penalty in the Swedish labor market," Working Papers 2011:12, Lund University, Department of Economics.
  3. Caliendo, Marco & Lee, Wang-Sheng, 2011. "Fat Chance! Obesity and the Transition from Unemployment to Employment," IZA Discussion Papers 5795, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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