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Self-discrimination: A field experiment on obesity


  • Pablo Brañas-Garza

    () (GLOBE and Universidad de Granada)

  • Antonios Proestakis

    () (GLOBE and Universidad de Granada)


While it is well-established in the literature that obese people are discriminated against in the working environment, little is known about their own actual behavior. Our experimental setting investigates whether these potentially discriminated people respond in a different way when faced with the opportunity of earning a positive amount of money. Significant lower money requests by obese people confirm our self-discrimination hypothesis, offering an additional explanation for the wage gap; Thus, it seems that obese people earn less not only because of discrimination against them but also because they themselves are less demanding. Two different explanations are suggested obese people request less due to self-esteem vulnerability and/or due to some kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Results are not confirmed when applying the same approach to "beauty" and "gender", two features that are also often associated with wage discrimination.

Suggested Citation

  • Pablo Brañas-Garza & Antonios Proestakis, 2010. "Self-discrimination: A field experiment on obesity," ThE Papers 10/18, Department of Economic Theory and Economic History of the University of Granada..
  • Handle: RePEc:gra:wpaper:10/16

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
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    7. 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.
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    13. Piketty, Thomas, 1998. "Self-fulfilling beliefs about social status," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 115-132, October.
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    More about this item


    Discrimination; obesity; labor market; self-fulfilling prophecy; experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination


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