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The Effect of Obesity on Wages and Employment: The Difference Between Having a High BMI and Being Fat

Author

Listed:
  • Johansson, Edvard

    () (Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration)

  • Böckerman, Petri

    () (Labour Institute for Economic Research)

  • Kiiskinen, Urpo

    () (National Public Health Institute)

  • Heliövaara, Markku

    () (National Public Health Institute)

Abstract

In this paper, we re-examine the relationship between overweight and labour market success, using indicators of individual body composition along with BMI (Body Mass Index). We use the dataset from Finland in which weight, height, fat mass and waist circumference are not self-reported, but obtained as part of the overall health examination. We find that waist circumference, but not weight or fat mass, has a negative effect on wages for women, whereas all measures of obesity have negative effects on women’s employment probabilities. For men, the only obesity measure that is significant for men’s employment probabilities is fat mass. One interpretation of our findings is that the negative wage effects of overweight on wages run through the discrimination channel, but that the negative effects of overweight on employment have more to do with ill health. All in all, measures of body composition provide a more refined picture about the effects of obesity on wages and employment.

Suggested Citation

  • Johansson, Edvard & Böckerman, Petri & Kiiskinen, Urpo & Heliövaara, Markku, 2007. "The Effect of Obesity on Wages and Employment: The Difference Between Having a High BMI and Being Fat," Working Papers 528, Hanken School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhb:hanken:0528
    as

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    File URL: http://openax.shh.fi:8180/dspace/bitstream/10227/244/1/528-978-951-555-963-0.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. John Cawley, 2007. "The Labor Market Impact of Obesity," Chapters,in: Obesity, Business and Public Policy, chapter 5 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Brunello, Giorgio & D'Hombres, Beatrice, 2007. "Does body weight affect wages?: Evidence from Europe," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 1-19, March.
    3. John Cawley & Markus M. Grabka & Dean R. Lillard, 2005. "A Comparison of the Relationship between Obesity and Earnings in the U.S. and Germany," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 125(1), pages 119-129.
    4. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2004:94:3:468-472_0 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. 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.
    6. Hübler, Olaf, 2006. "The Nonlinear Link between Height and Wages: An Empirical Investigation," IZA Discussion Papers 2394, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    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.
    8. John Cawley, 2004. "The Impact of Obesity on Wages," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. Burkhauser, Richard V. & Cawley, John, 2008. "Beyond BMI: The value of more accurate measures of fatness and obesity in social science research," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 519-529, March.
    12. Greve, Jane, 2007. "Obesity and Labor Market Outcomes: New Danish Evidence," Working Papers 07-13, University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Economics.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Sjöholm, Hans-Kristian, 2007. "The Impact of New Capital Requirements on the Portfolio Decisions of Finnish Pension Institutions," Working Papers 532, Hanken School of Economics.
    2. Brunello, Giorgio & Michaud, Pierre-Carl & Sanz-de-Galdeano, Anna, 2008. "The Rise in Obesity across the Atlantic: An Economic Perspective," IZA Discussion Papers 3529, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Strandvik, Tore & Holmlund, Maria & Edvardsson, Bo, 2008. "Customer Needing - Conceptualising Industrial Service from a Customer Perspective," Working Papers 536, Hanken School of Economics.
    4. Brunello, Giorgio & Michaud, Pierre-Carl & Sanz-de-Galdeano, Anna, 2008. "The Rise in Obesity across the Atlantic: An Economic Perspective," IZA Discussion Papers 3529, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Greve, Jane, 2008. "Obesity and labor market outcomes in Denmark," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 350-362, December.
    6. Wada, Roy & Tekin, Erdal, 2010. "Body composition and wages," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 242-254, July.
    7. Wägar, Karolina & Björk, Peter & Ravald, Annika & West, Björn, 2007. "Exploring Marketing in Micro Firms," Working Papers 531, Hanken School of Economics.
    8. Niklas Ahlgren & Mikael Juselius, 2012. "Tests for cointegration rank and the initial condition," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 42(3), pages 667-691, June.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    wages; employment; bmi; overweight; obesity; fatness; adiposity;

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