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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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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. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2006. "Stature and status: Height, ability, and labor market outcomes," Working Papers 27, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  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.
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  7. 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.
  8. 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).
  9. 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.
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  13. 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.
  14. Susan Averett & Sanders Korenman, 1993. "The Economic Reality of the Beauty Myth," NBER Working Papers 4521, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  19. Lechner, Michael, 2009. "Long-run labour market and health effects of individual sports activities," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 839-854, July.
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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. Caliendo, Marco & Lee, Wang-Sheng, 2013. "Fat chance! Obesity and the transition from unemployment to employment," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 121-133.
  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. 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.

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