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Body composition and wages

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  • Wada, Roy
  • Tekin, Erdal

Abstract

This paper examines the relationship between body composition and wages in the United States. We develop measures of body composition - body fat (BF) and fat-free mass (FFM) - using data on bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) that are available in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III and estimate wage models for respondents in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979. Previous research uses body size or BMI as measures of obesity despite a growing concern that they do not distinguish between body fat and fat-free body mass or adequately control for non-homogeneity inside the human body. Therefore, measures presented in this paper represent a useful alternative to BMI-based proxies of obesity. Our results indicate that BF is associated with decreased wages for both males and females among whites and blacks. We also present evidence suggesting that FFM is associated with increased wages. We show that these results are not the artifacts of unobserved heterogeneity. Finally, our findings are robust to numerous specification checks and to a large number of alternative BIA prediction equations from which the body composition measures are derived.

Suggested Citation

  • Wada, Roy & Tekin, Erdal, 2010. "Body composition and wages," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 242-254, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:8:y:2010:i:2:p:242-254
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    BMI Body composition Body fat Fat-free mass Bodyweight Obesity Wages;

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs

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