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Obesity and Labor Market Outcomes: Evidence from the British NCDS


  • Lindeboom, Maarten

    () (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)

  • Lundborg, Petter

    () (Lund University)

  • van der Klaauw, Bas

    () (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)


We study the effect of obesity on wages and employment, using data from the British NCDS. The results show a significant negative association between obesity and labor market outcomes even after controlling for a rich set of demographic, socioeconomic, environmental and behavioral variables. After instrumenting with parental obesity the associations are no longer significant. We show that the intergenerational correlation in obesity is mainly due to genetic variation. However, the instruments do not always pass the overidentification tests and are sometimes weak. We are therefore somewhat sceptical about using parental obesity as an instrument.

Suggested Citation

  • Lindeboom, Maarten & Lundborg, Petter & van der Klaauw, Bas, 2009. "Obesity and Labor Market Outcomes: Evidence from the British NCDS," IZA Discussion Papers 4099, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4099

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jasmin Kantarevic & St├ęphane Mechoulan, 2006. "Birth Order, Educational Attainment, and Earnings: An Investigation Using the PSID," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(4).
    2. Mueller, Gerrit & Plug, Erik, 2004. "Estimating the Effect of Personality on Male-Female Earnings," IZA Discussion Papers 1254, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Bruce Sacerdote, 2002. "The Nature and Nurture of Economic Outcomes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 344-348, May.
    4. Dan-Olof Rooth, 2009. "Obesity, Attractiveness, and Differential Treatment in Hiring: A Field Experiment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(3).
    5. Case, Anne & Fertig, Angela & Paxson, Christina, 2005. "The lasting impact of childhood health and circumstance," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 365-389, March.
    6. John Cawley, 2004. "The Impact of Obesity on Wages," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. 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. Averett, Susan L. & Argys, Laura M. & Kohn, Jennifer L., 2012. "Immigration, Obesity and Labor Market Outcomes in the UK," IZA Discussion Papers 6454, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item


    endogeneity; employment; wages; labor; obesity;

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General

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