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Self discrimination: A field experiment on obesity

Listed author(s):
  • Antonios Proestakis

    (Institute for Health and Consumer Protection)

  • Pablo Branas-Garza

    (Middlesex University)

  • Praveen Kujal

    (Middlesex University)

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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File URL: http://repeck.bilgi.edu.tr/RePEc/beb/wpseet/BelisWP_SEET04.pdf
File Function: First version, 2014
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by BELIS, Istanbul Bilgi University in its series SEET Working Papers with number 2014-04.

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Length: 22 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2014
Handle: RePEc:beb:wpseet:201404
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://belis.bilgi.edu.tr
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  1. Hamermesh, Daniel S & Biddle, Jeff E, 1994. "Beauty and the Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1174-1194, December.
  2. James Heckman, 2011. "Policies to foster human capital," Educational Studies, Higher School of Economics, issue 3, pages 73-137.
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  5. Markus M. Mobius & Tanya S. Rosenblat, 2006. "Why Beauty Matters," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 222-235, March.
  6. Piketty, Thomas, 1998. "Self-fulfilling beliefs about social status," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 115-132, October.
  7. Uri Gneezy & Muriel Niederle & Aldo Rustichini, 2003. "Performance in Competitive Environments: Gender Differences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1049-1074.
  8. Atella, Vincenzo & Pace, Noemi & Vuri, Daniela, 2008. "Are employers discriminating with respect to weight?: European Evidence using Quantile Regression," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 305-329, December.
  9. Andreoni, James & Petrie, Ragan, 2008. "Beauty, gender and stereotypes: Evidence from laboratory experiments," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 73-93, February.
  10. Euna Han & Edward C. Norton & Sally C. Stearns, 2009. "Weight and wages: fat versus lean paychecks," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(5), pages 535-548.
  11. Nicola Persico & Andrew Postlewaite & Dan Silverman, 2004. "The Effect of Adolescent Experience on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Height," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(5), pages 1019-1053, October.
  12. John Cawley, 2004. "The Impact of Obesity on Wages," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
  13. Eckel, Catherine C. & Wilson, Rick K., 2004. "Is trust a risky decision?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 447-465, December.
  14. Johansson, Edvard & Böckerman, Petri & Kiiskinen, Urpo & Heliövaara, Markku, 2009. "Obesity and labour market success in Finland: The difference between having a high BMI and being fat," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 36-45, March.
  15. John Cawley & Sheldon Danziger, 2005. "Morbid obesity and the transition from welfare to work," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(4), pages 727-743.
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