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Fat, muscles, and wages

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  • Bozoyan, Christiane
  • Wolbring, Tobias

Abstract

Recent studies in health economics have generated two important findings: that as a measure of fatness the body mass index (BMI) is biased; and that, when it comes to analyzing wage correlates, both fat-free mass (FFM) and body fat (BF) are better suited to the task. We validate these findings for Germany using the BIAdata Base Project and the German Socio-Economic Panel. While we find no significant correlation between BMI and wages in any of our models, simple linear regression models featuring both contemporary and time-lagged fatness measures indicate that FFM and, to a lesser extent, BF are associated with hourly wages: more specifically, the relationship between FFM/BF and hourly wages is about two to three times higher for females than for males. In contrast, fixed-effects models indicate that there is no correlation between hourly wages and both FFM and BF with one exception: a significant correlation (and one in line with expectations) is found to be the rule among job changers.

Suggested Citation

  • Bozoyan, Christiane & Wolbring, Tobias, 2011. "Fat, muscles, and wages," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 356-363.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:9:y:2011:i:4:p:356-363
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ehb.2011.07.001
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    2. Paolo Nicola Barbieri, 2018. "BMI and Employment: Is There an Overweight Premium?," Italian Economic Journal: A Continuation of Rivista Italiana degli Economisti and Giornale degli Economisti, Springer;Società Italiana degli Economisti (Italian Economic Association), vol. 4(3), pages 523-548, November.
    3. Mosca, Irene, 2013. "Body mass index, waist circumference and employment: Evidence from older Irish adults," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 522-533.
    4. Kinge, Jonas Minet, 2015. "Body mass index and employment status: a new look," HERO Online Working Paper Series 2015:3, University of Oslo, Health Economics Research Programme.
    5. Mosca, Irene, 2012. "Obesity and Employment in Ireland: Moving Beyond BMI," Papers WP431, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    6. Frieder Kropfhäußer & Marco Sunder, 2014. "A Weighty Issue Revisited: The Dynamic Effect of Body Weight on Earnings and Satisfaction in Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 635, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    7. Kinge, Jonas Minet, 2016. "Waist circumference, body mass index and employment outcomes," HERO Online Working Paper Series 2016:4, University of Oslo, Health Economics Research Programme.
    8. Kropfhäußer, Frieder & Sunder, Marco, 2013. "A weighty issue revisited: the dynamic effect of body weight on earnings and satisfaction in Germany," VfS Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79895, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    9. Christina Hansen Edwards & Johan Håkon Bjørngaard & Jonas Minet Kinge, 2021. "The relationship between body mass index and income: Using genetic variants from HUNT as instrumental variables," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 30(8), pages 1933-1949, August.
    10. Pagan, Ricardo & Haro, Carmen Ordóñez de & Sánchez, Carlos Rivas, 2016. "Obesity, job satisfaction and disability at older ages in Europe," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 20(C), pages 42-54.
    11. Larose, Samantha L. & Kpelitse, Koffi A. & Campbell, M. Karen & Zaric, Gregory S. & Sarma, Sisira, 2016. "Does obesity influence labour market outcomes among working-age adults? Evidence from Canadian longitudinal data," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 20(C), pages 26-41.
    12. Nuñez, Roy, 2020. "Obesity and labor market in Peru," MPRA Paper 105621, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Mavisakalyan, Astghik, 2018. "Do employers reward physical attractiveness in transition countries?," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 38-52.
    14. Kooreman, Peter & Scherpenzeel, Annette, 2014. "High frequency body mass measurement, feedback, and health behaviors," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 14(C), pages 141-153.
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    16. Petri Böckerman & Edvard Johansson & Samuli Saarni & Suoma Saarni, 2014. "The Negative Association of Obesity with Subjective Well-Being: Is it All About Health?," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 15(4), pages 857-867, August.
    17. Kelly, Inas R. & Doytch, Nadia & Dave, Dhaval, 2019. "How does body mass index affect economic growth? A comparative analysis of countries by levels of economic development," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 58-73.

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