Self discrimination: A field experiment on obesity
Empirical evidence suggests that physical characteristics such as obesity can result in a salary gap in the work place. It is, however, not clear how much of this (gap) is due to factors emanating from the demand or supply side of the market. In this paper we use a field experiment to study whether a part of this wage gap can be attributed to personality traits of individuals on the supply side. Monitors randomly select individuals to respond to a questionnaire. Individuals can make money requests for completing the questionnaire. In the questionnaire they also self-report several personality chracteristics. We find that the more obese individuals perceive themselves to be, lesser is the money they request. The negative association between money requests and obesity is mostly driven by female participants. The effect of (self-perceived) non-obese individuals is asymmetric across gender. Self perceived "normal" females, perceived thin by the monitors, request more, meanwhile, males in this category request less relative to those that do not overstate their obesity levels. Our results suggest that lower salary request may anchor obese individuals to lower thresholds and may partly explain the wage gap.
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