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Weight and wages: fat versus lean paychecks

  • Euna Han

    (Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA)

  • Edward C. Norton
  • Sally C. Stearns

    (Department of Health Policy and Administration, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC, USA)

Past empirical work has shown a negative relationship between the body mass index (BMI) and wages in most cases. We improve on this work by allowing the marginal effect of non-linear BMI groups to vary by gender, age, and type of interpersonal relationships required in each occupation. We use the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 (1982-1998). We find that the often-reported negative relationship between the BMI and wages is larger in occupations requiring interpersonal skills with presumably more social interactions. Also, the wage penalty increases as the respondents get older beyond their mid-twenties. We show that being overweight and obese penalizes the probability of employment across all race-gender subgroups except black women and men. Our results for the obesity-wage association can be explained by either consumers or employers having distaste for obese workers. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1002/hec.1386
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Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Health Economics.

Volume (Year): 18 (2009)
Issue (Month): 5 ()
Pages: 535-548

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Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:18:y:2009:i:5:p:535-548
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/jhome/5749

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  1. Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson, 2007. "Labor Supply and Weight," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(1).
  2. Puhani, Patrick A, 2000. " The Heckman Correction for Sample Selection and Its Critique," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(1), pages 53-68, February.
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  5. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2004. "Maternal Employment and Adolescent Development," NBER Working Papers 10691, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Dalton Conley & Rebecca Glauber, 2005. "Gender, Body Mass and Economic Status," NBER Working Papers 11343, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Charles L. Baum & William F. Ford, 2004. "The wage effects of obesity: a longitudinal study," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(9), pages 885-899.
  8. Charles A. Register & Donald R. Williams, 1992. "Labor Market Effects of Marijuana and Cocaine Use among Young Men," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 45(3), pages 435-448, April.
  9. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Jeff E. Biddle, 1993. "Beauty and the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 4518, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. John Cawley, 2004. "The Impact of Obesity on Wages," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
  11. Shin-Yi Chou & Michael Grossman & Henry Saffer, 2002. "An Economic Analysis of Adult Obesity: Results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System," NBER Working Papers 9247, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Jay Bhattacharya & M. Kate Bundorf, 2005. "The Incidence of the Healthcare Costs of Obesity," NBER Working Papers 11303, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1997. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 557-586, May.
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