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Does Smoking Really Harm Your Earnings so Much? Biases in Current Estimates of the Smoking Wage Penalty


  • Anger, Silke
  • Kvasnicka, Michael


Empirical studies on the earnings effects of tobacco use have found significant wage penalties attached to smoking. This article produces evidence that suggests that these estimates are significantly upward biased. The bias arises from a general failure in the literature to control for past smoking behaviour of individuals. Two-Stage Least Squares (2SLS) regressions show that the smoking wage penalty is reduced by as much as a third, if past smoking of individuals is controlled for.

Suggested Citation

  • Anger, Silke & Kvasnicka, Michael, 2010. "Does Smoking Really Harm Your Earnings so Much? Biases in Current Estimates of the Smoking Wage Penalty," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 561-564.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:espost:68595

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Christopher F Baum & Mark E. Schaffer & Steven Stillman, 2003. "Instrumental variables and GMM: Estimation and testing," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 3(1), pages 1-31, March.
    2. Clark, Andrew E. & Etile, Fabrice, 2006. "Don't give up on me baby: Spousal correlation in smoking behaviour," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(5), pages 958-978, September.
    3. van Ours, Jan C., 2004. "A pint a day raises a man's pay; but smoking blows that gain away," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(5), pages 863-886, September.
    4. van Ours, Jan C, 2002. "A Pint a Day Raises a Man's Pay; But Smoking Blows that Gain Away," CEPR Discussion Papers 3308, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Heineck, Guido & Schwarze, Johannes, 2003. "Substance Use and Earnings: The Case of Smokers in Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 743, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Christian Bantle & John P. Haisken-DeNew, 2002. "Smoke Signals: The Intergenerational Transmission of Smoking Behavior," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 277, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    7. M. Christopher Auld, 2005. "Smoking, Drinking, and Income," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(2).
    8. Phillip B. Levine & Tara A. Gustafson & Ann D. Velenchik, 1995. "More Bad News for Smokers? The Effects of Cigarette Smoking on Labor Market Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 5270, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Matt Dickson, 2013. "The Causal Effect of Education on Wages Revisited," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 75(4), pages 477-498, August.
    2. Pierre Pestieau & Gregory Ponthiere, 2012. "Myopia, regrets, and risky behaviors," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 19(2), pages 288-317, April.
    3. Eric A. BONDZIE, 2016. "Effect of Smoking and other Economic Variables on Wages in the Euro Area," Journal of Economics Bibliography, KSP Journals, vol. 3(1), pages 38-52, March.

    More about this item


    Smoking; Wages; Earnings; Regressions;

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • I19 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Other
    • C51 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Model Construction and Estimation


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