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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
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622964

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  1. Herpin, Nicolas, 2005. "Love, careers, and heights in France, 2001," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 420-449, December.
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  9. Michèle Belot & Jan Fidrmuc, 2009. "Anthropometry of Love - Height and Gender Asymmetries in Interethnic Marriages," CESifo Working Paper Series 2846, CESifo Group Munich.
  10. John Cawley & Markus M. Grabka & Dean R. Lillard, 2005. "A Comparison of the Relationship between Obesity and Earnings in the U.S. and Germany," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 125(1), pages 119-129.
  11. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Jeff E. Biddle, 1993. "Beauty and the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 4518, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. John Cawley, 2004. "The Impact of Obesity on Wages," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
  13. Dan-Olof Rooth, 2009. "Obesity, Attractiveness, and Differential Treatment in Hiring: A Field Experiment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(3).
  14. 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).
  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.
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