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No Country for Fat Men? Obesity, Earnings, Skills, and Health among 450,000 Swedish Men

  • Lundborg, Petter

    ()

    (Lund University)

  • Nystedt, Paul

    ()

    (Linköping University)

  • Rooth, Dan-Olof

    ()

    (Linnaeus University)

The negative association between obesity and labor market outcomes has been widely documented, yet little is known about the mechanisms through which the association arises. Using rich and unique data on 450,000 Swedish men enlisting for the military, we find that the crude obesity penalty in earnings, which amounts to about 18 percent, is linked to supply-side characteristics that are associated with both earnings and obesity. In particular, we show that the penalty reflects negative associations between obesity, on the one hand, and cognitive skills, non-cognitive skills, and physical fitness, on the other. Our results suggest that employers use obesity as a marker for skill limitations in order to statistically discriminate.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4775.

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Length: 41 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as 'Body Size, Skills, and Income: Evidence From 150,000 Teenage Siblings' in: Demography, 2014, [Online First]
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4775
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  18. Lundborg, Petter & Nystedt, Paul & Rooth, Dan-Olof, 2009. "The Height Premium in Earnings: The Role of Physical Capacity and Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Skills," IZA Discussion Papers 4266, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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