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Women's Increasing Wage Penalties from Being Overweight and Obese

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  • David Lempert

    () (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Abstract

This paper first utilizes annual surveys between the 1981 and 2000 waves of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to estimate the effect of being overweight on hourly wages. Previous studies have shown that white women are the only race-gender group for which weight has a statistically significant effect on wages. This paper finds a statistically significant continual increase in the wage penalty for overweight and obese white women followed throughout two decades. A supporting analysis from a cross-sectional dataset, comprised of the 1987 National Medical Expenditure Survey and the 2000 and 2004 waves of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, also shows an increasing wage penalty. The bias against weight has increased, despite drastic increases in the rate of obesity in the United States. Alternatively, the increasing rarity of thinness has led to its rising premium.

Suggested Citation

  • David Lempert, 2007. "Women's Increasing Wage Penalties from Being Overweight and Obese," Working Papers 414, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Handle: RePEc:bls:wpaper:ec070130
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    File URL: https://www.bls.gov/ore/pdf/ec070130.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Richard V. Burkhauser & John Cawley, 2004. "Obesity, Disability, and Movement Onto the Disability Insurance Rolls," Working Papers wp089, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    2. Charles L. Baum & William F. Ford, 2004. "The wage effects of obesity: a longitudinal study," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(9), pages 885-899.
    3. Susan Averett & Sanders Korenman, 1996. "The Economic Reality of the Beauty Myth," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(2), pages 304-330.
    4. Jay Bhattacharya & M. Kate Bundorf, 2005. "The Incidence of the Healthcare Costs of Obesity," NBER Working Papers 11303, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. John Cawley, 2004. "The Impact of Obesity on Wages," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
    6. John Cawley, 2000. "Body Weight and Women's Labor Market Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 7841, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Barone, Adriana & O'Higgins, Niall, 2010. "Fat and out in Salerno and its province: Adolescent obesity and early school leaving in Southern Italy," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 44-57, March.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Obesity; Wages; Women; Beauty Premium;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing

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