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The effect of weight on labor market outcomes: An application of genetic instrumental variables

Author

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  • Petri Böckerman
  • John Cawley
  • Jutta Viinikainen
  • Terho Lehtimäki
  • Suvi Rovio
  • Ilkka Seppälä
  • Jaakko Pehkonen
  • Olli Raitakari

Abstract

This paper contributes to the literature on the labor market consequences of obesity by using a novel instrument: genetic risk score, which reflects the predisposition to higher body mass index (BMI) across many genetic loci. We estimate instrumental variable models of the effect of BMI on labor market outcomes using Finnish data that have many strengths, for example, BMI that is measured rather than self‐reported, and data on earnings and social income transfers that are from administrative tax records and are thus free of the problems associated with nonresponse, reporting error or top coding. The empirical results are sensitive to whether we use a narrower or broader genetic risk score, and to model specification. For example, models using the narrower genetic risk score as an instrument imply that a one‐unit increase in BMI is associated with 6.9% lower wages, 1.8% fewer years employed, and a 3 percentage point higher probability of receiving any social income transfers. However, when we use a newer, broader genetic risk score, we cannot reject the null hypothesis of no effect. Future research using genetic risk scores should examine the sensitivity of their results to the risk score used.

Suggested Citation

  • Petri Böckerman & John Cawley & Jutta Viinikainen & Terho Lehtimäki & Suvi Rovio & Ilkka Seppälä & Jaakko Pehkonen & Olli Raitakari, 2019. "The effect of weight on labor market outcomes: An application of genetic instrumental variables," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(1), pages 65-77, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:28:y:2019:i:1:p:65-77
    DOI: 10.1002/hec.3828
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    Cited by:

    1. Brunello, Giorgio & Sanz-de-Galdeano, Anna & Terskaya, Anastasia, 2020. "Not only in my genes: The effects of peers’ genotype on obesity," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(C).
    2. Amin, Vikesh & Flores, Carlos A. & Flores-Lagunes, Alfonso, 2020. "The impact of BMI on mental health: Further evidence from genetic markers," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 38(C).
    3. 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.
    4. Sanz-de-Galdeano, Anna & Terskaya, Anastasia & Upegui, Angie, 2020. "Association of a Genetic Risk Score with BMI along the Life-Cycle: Evidence from Several US Cohorts," IZA Discussion Papers 13671, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Böckerman, Petri & Viinikainen, Jutta & Vainiomäki, Jari & Hintsanen, Mirka & Pitkänen, Niina & Lehtimäki, Terho & Pehkonen, Jaakko & Rovio, Suvi & Raitakari, Olli, 2017. "Stature and long-term labor market outcomes: Evidence using Mendelian randomization," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 18-29.
    6. 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.
    7. Anna Sanz-de-Galdeano & Anastasia Terskaya & Angie Upegui, 2020. "Association of a genetic risk score with BMI along the life-cycle: Evidence from several US cohorts," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 15(9), pages 1-19, September.
    8. Willage, Barton, 2018. "The effect of weight on mental health: New evidence using genetic IVs," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 113-130.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • J7 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination

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