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On the distributional and evolutionary nature of the obesity wage penalty

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  • Brown, Christian
  • Routon, P. Wesley

Abstract

The economics literature supports a link between labor market measures, such as earnings, and health conditions, such as obesity. There is reason to believe the effects of obesity on wages may vary for high- and low-earning individuals and that obesity wage effects may evolve over a lifecycle or from generation to generation. Drawing on data from two longitudinal surveys, we estimate quantile and fixed effect quantile regressions, among others, to further examine the obesity wage effect. Results suggest an increasingly severe penalty across the wage distribution for females. Specifically, the highest-earning women may be penalized as much as five times that of the lowest earners. Results for males suggest that penalties may be present at select wage levels, while prior research has generally found no male obesity penalty. We also provide evidence that the obesity penalty has increased across generations and limited evidence that it may slow earnings growth over one’s lifetime.

Suggested Citation

  • Brown, Christian & Routon, P. Wesley, 2018. "On the distributional and evolutionary nature of the obesity wage penalty," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 160-172.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:28:y:2018:i:c:p:160-172
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ehb.2017.10.001
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Ronald DeBeaumont & Robert Girtz, 2019. "The Mediation Effect of Self-Esteem on Weight and Earnings," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 47(4), pages 415-427, December.
    2. Comfort F. Ricketts & Randall C. Campbell & Jon P. Rezek, 2019. "The Effects of Work Hours on Physical and Mental Health of Late Prime Age Men and Women," The American Economist, Sage Publications, vol. 64(2), pages 216-236, October.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Obesity; Earnings; Wage penalty; Longitudinal quantile regression; NLSY79; NLSY97;

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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