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A Comparison of the Relationship between Obesity and Earnings in the U.S. and Germany


  • Cawley, John H.
  • Grabka, Markus M.
  • Lillard, Dean R.


This paper investigates and compares the relationship between obesity and earnings in the U.S. and Germany. Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (U.S.) and the German Socio-Economic Panel, instrumental variables models are estimated that account for the endogeneity of body weight. We find that, in both countries, heavier women tend to earn less. For example, obesity is associated with almost 20 percent lower earnings for U.S. and German women. We test for causality using IV models; these models suggest that weight may lower labor earnings for U.S. women. However, our IV results yield no evidence of a causal impact of weight on earnings for women in Germany or for men in either country.

Suggested Citation

  • Cawley, John H. & Grabka, Markus M. & Lillard, Dean R., 2005. "A Comparison of the Relationship between Obesity and Earnings in the U.S. and Germany," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 119-129.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:espost:66218

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. John Cawley & Markus M. Grabka & Dean R. Lillard, 2005. "A Comparison of the Relationship between Obesity and Earnings in the U.S. and Germany," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 125(1), pages 119-129.
    2. John Cawley, 2004. "The Impact of Obesity on Wages," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
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    More about this item


    Obesity; Weight; Labor Market Outcomes; IV estimation;

    JEL classification:

    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General


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