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The labour market impact of body weight in China: a semiparametric analysis

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  • Satoru Shimokawa

Abstract

While a positive wage effect of Body Mass Index (BMI) is widely observed in low-income developing countries, a negative wage effect of BMI is often observed in high-income developed countries. To fill the gap between these previous findings, we investigate the relationship between body weight and wages in transition economies. We focus on China, whose rapid economic growth of the 1990s was followed by a rapid increase in overweight and obesity while still experiencing significant food insecurity and underweight. we first use several parametric regression strategies to obtain a consistent estimate of the wage effects of weight. Second, we adopt a semiparametric partially linear model that allows for endogeneity of weight. Parametric regressions provide mixed results, and the sign and magnitude of their estimates are sensitive to the choice of samples and regression strategies. Semiparametric estimates provide evidence of a wage penalty for very heavy and thin persons among both men and women. The wage penalty is more significant among men than among women. Semiparametric results also indicate that parametric estimates can overstate and misrepresent the wage effects of weight for healthy weight persons due to their restrictive functional form assumptions.

Suggested Citation

  • Satoru Shimokawa, 2008. "The labour market impact of body weight in China: a semiparametric analysis," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(8), pages 949-968.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:applec:v:40:y:2008:i:8:p:949-968
    DOI: 10.1080/00036840600771239
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    Cited by:

    1. Tafreschi, Darjusch, 2015. "The income body weight gradients in the developing economy of China," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 16(C), pages 115-134.
    2. Shi Zheng & Zhigang Wang & Holly Wang & Shunfeng Song, 2010. "Do Nutrition and Health Affect Migrant Workers' Incomes? Some Evidence from Beijing, China," China & World Economy, Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, vol. 18(5), pages 105-124, September.
    3. Sabia, Joseph J. & Rees, Daniel I., 2012. "Body weight and wages: Evidence from Add Health," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 14-19.
    4. Atella, Vincenzo & Pace, Noemi & Vuri, Daniela, 2008. "Are employers discriminating with respect to weight?: European Evidence using Quantile Regression," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 305-329, December.
    5. Greve, Jane, 2008. "Obesity and labor market outcomes in Denmark," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 350-362, December.
    6. Pierre LEVASSEUR, 2016. "The effects of bodyweight on wages in urban Mexico," Cahiers du GREThA (2007-2019) 2016-18, Groupe de Recherche en Economie Théorique et Appliquée (GREThA).
    7. Cawley, John & Han, Euna & Norton, Edward C., 2009. "Obesity and labor market outcomes among legal immigrants to the United States from developing countries," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 153-164, July.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. Susan L. Averett & Laura M. Argys & Jennifer L. Kohn, 2013. "Immigrants, wages and obesity: the weight of the evidence," Chapters, in: Amelie F. Constant & Klaus F. Zimmermann (ed.),International Handbook on the Economics of Migration, chapter 13, pages 242-256, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    11. Olivier Bargain & Jinan Zeidan, 2014. "The Direct Effect of Obesity on Emotional Well-Being: Evidence from Mexico," AMSE Working Papers 1432, Aix-Marseille School of Economics, France, revised 16 Jul 2014.
    12. Jonas Minet Kinge, 2017. "Waist circumference, body mass index, and employment outcomes," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 18(6), pages 787-799, July.
    13. Clément, Matthieu, 2017. "The income-body-size gradient among Chinese urban adults: A semiparametric analysis," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 253-270.
    14. 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.
    15. Bonnefond, Céline & Clément, Matthieu, 2014. "Social class and body weight among Chinese urban adults: The role of the middle classes in the nutrition transition," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 22-29.
    16. Yamamura, Eiji & Smyth, Russell & Zhang, Yan, 2015. "Decomposing the effect of height on income in China: The role of market and political channels," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 19(C), pages 62-74.
    17. 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.
    18. 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.
    19. Levasseur, Pierre, 2017. "The ambiguous causal relationship between body-mass and labour income in emerging economies: The case of Mexico," MPRA Paper 81933, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    20. Kinge, Jonas Minet, 2016. "Body mass index and employment status: A new look," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 22(C), pages 117-125.
    21. Chu, Filmer & Ohinmaa, Arto, 2016. "The obesity penalty in the labor market using longitudinal Canadian data," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 23(C), pages 10-17.
    22. Raymundo M. Campos-Vazquez & Roy Nuñez, 2019. "Obesity and labor market outcomes in Mexico/Obesidad y el mercado de trabajo en México," Estudios Económicos, El Colegio de México, Centro de Estudios Económicos, vol. 34(2), pages 159-196.
    23. Lee, Wang-Sheng, 2014. "Big and Tall: Is there a Height Premium or Obesity Penalty in the Labor Market?," IZA Discussion Papers 8606, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    24. Nicholas Burger & John Lynham, 2010. "Betting on weight loss … and losing: personal gambles as commitment mechanisms," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(12), pages 1161-1166.
    25. Yuxi Xiao & Haizheng Li & Belton M. Fleisher, 2015. "The earnings effects of health and health-related activities: a panel data approach," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 47(14), pages 1407-1423, March.

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