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Anthropometry and socioeconomics among couples: Evidence in the United States

  • Oreffice, Sonia
  • Quintana-Domeque, Climent

We analyze the marriage-market aspects of weight and height in the United States using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics on anthropometric characteristics of both spouses. We find evidence of positive sorting in spouses' body mass index (BMI), weight, and height. Within couples, gender-asymmetric trade-offs arise not only between physical and socioeconomic attributes, but also between anthropometric attributes, with significant penalties for fatter women and shorter men. A wife's obesity (BMI or weight) measures are negatively correlated with her husband's income, education, and height, controlling for his weight and her height, along with spouses' demographic and socioeconomic characteristics. Conversely, heavier husbands are not penalized by matching with poorer or less educated wives, but only with shorter ones. Height is valued mainly for men, with shorter men matched with heavier and less educated wives.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Economics & Human Biology.

Volume (Year): 8 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (December)
Pages: 373-384

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:8:y:2010:i:3:p:373-384
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