Fat, muscles, and wages
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.
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