Do body weight and gender shape the work force? The case of Iceland
Most studies of the relationship between body weight - as well as its corollary, beauty - and labor-market outcomes have indicated that it is a function of a gender bias, the negative relationship between excess weight or obesity and labor-market outcomes being greater for women than for men. Iceland offers an exceptional opportunity to examine this hypothesis, given that it scores relatively well on an index of gender equality comprising economic, political, educational, labor-market, and health-based criteria. Equipped with an advanced level of educational attainment, on average, women are well represented in Iceland's labor force. When it comes to women's presence in the political sphere, Iceland is out of the ordinary as well; that Icelanders were the first in the world to elect a woman to be president may suggest a relatively gender-blind assessment in the labor market. In the current study, survey data collected by Gallup Iceland in 2002 are used to examine the relationship between weight and employment within this political and social setting. Point estimates indicate that, despite apparently lesser gender discrimination in Iceland than elsewhere, the bias against excess weight and obesity remains gender-based, showing a slightly negative relationship between weight and the employment rate of women, whereas a slightly positive relationship was found for men.
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