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

Author

Listed:
  • Lundborg, Petter

    () (Lund University)

  • Nystedt, Paul

    () (Linköping University)

  • Rooth, Dan-Olof

    () (Stockholm University)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Lundborg, Petter & Nystedt, Paul & Rooth, Dan-Olof, 2010. "No Country for Fat Men? Obesity, Earnings, Skills, and Health among 450,000 Swedish Men," IZA Discussion Papers 4775, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4775
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. No Country for Fat Men?
      by Ariel Goldring in Free Market Mojo on 2010-03-08 18:29:42

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    Cited by:

    1. Berning, Joshua, 2015. "The role of physicians in promoting weight loss," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 17(C), pages 104-115.
    2. Margareta Dackehag & Ulf-G. Gerdtham & Martin Nordin, 2015. "Productivity or discrimination? An economic analysis of excess-weight penalty in the Swedish labor market," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 16(6), pages 589-601, July.
    3. Caliendo, Marco & Lee, Wang-Sheng, 2013. "Fat chance! Obesity and the transition from unemployment to employment," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 121-133.
    4. Rooth, Dan-Olof, 2011. "Work out or out of work -- The labor market return to physical fitness and leisure sports activities," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 399-409, June.
    5. Lindeboom, Maarten & Lundborg, Petter & van der Klaauw, Bas, 2010. "Assessing the impact of obesity on labor market outcomes," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 309-319, December.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    health; earnings; physical fitness; obesity; cognitive ability; non-cognitive ability; overweight;

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General
    • J70 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - General

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