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The relationship between body mass index and income: Using genetic variants from HUNT as instrumental variables

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  • Christina Hansen Edwards
  • Johan Håkon Bjørngaard
  • Jonas Minet Kinge

Abstract

Several studies have estimated effects of body mass index (BMI) on labour market outcomes, and these studies have mixed findings. A significant challenge has been to adequately control for omitted variables, selection, reverse causality, and measurement error. We examine the impact of BMI on income using genetic variants as instrumental variables for BMI. Individual‐level pre‐tax income from tax records was merged with health survey data containing measured height and weight, and data on genetic variants. The analyses were stratified by sex and a variety of methods were used to explore the sensitivity and validity of the instrumental variable (IV) strategy. For females we found that BMI had a negative effect on the logarithm of income. The effect estimated from the IV models (−0.02) was larger than the effect estimated from naïve ordinary least squares regressions (−0.01). For males, the coefficients for the effect of BMI on income were imprecise, and both positive and negative coefficients were estimated depending on the estimation method. Our results suggest that females are susceptible to reduced income levels following increased BMI.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:30:y:2021:i:8:p:1933-1949
    DOI: 10.1002/hec.4285
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