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The Consequences of Measurement Error when Estimating the Impact of BMI on Labour Market Outcomes

  • O'Neill, Donal

    ()

    (National University of Ireland, Maynooth)

  • Sweetman, Olive

    ()

    (National University of Ireland, Maynooth)

This paper uses data on both self-reported and true measures of individual Body Mass Index (BMI) to examine the nature of measurement error in self-reported BMI and to look at the consequences of using self-reported measures when estimating the effect of BMI on economic outcomes. In keeping with previous studies we find that self-reported BMI is subject to significant measurement error and this error is negatively correlated with the true measure of BMI. In our analysis this non-classical measurement error causes the traditional approach to overestimate the relationship between BMI and both income and education. Furthermore we show that popular alternatives estimators that have been adopted to address problems of measurement error in BMI, such as the conditional expectation approach and the instrumental variables approach, also exhibit significant biases.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 7008.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2012
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: IZA Journal of Labor Economics, 2013, 2:3
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7008
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  1. Newey, Whitney K., 1987. "Efficient estimation of limited dependent variable models with endogenous explanatory variables," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 231-250, November.
  2. Steven Haider & Gary Solon, 2006. "Life-Cycle Variation in the Association between Current and Lifetime Earnings," NBER Working Papers 11943, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Donal O’Neill & Olive Sweetman & Dirk Van de gaer, 2007. "The effects of measurement error and omitted variables when using transition matrices to measure intergenerational mobility," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 5(2), pages 159-178, August.
  4. Pischke, J.S., 1994. "Measurement Error and Earnings Dynamics: Some Estimates from the PSID Validation Study," Working papers 94-01, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  5. Johansson, Edvard & Böckerman, Petri & Kiiskinen, Urpo & Heliövaara, Markku, 2009. "Obesity and labour market success in Finland: The difference between having a high BMI and being fat," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 36-45, March.
  6. Pieter Serneels, 2002. "Explaining Non-Negative Duration Dependence Among the Unemployed," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2002-13, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  7. David Madden, 2010. "A Profile of Obesity in Ireland, 2002-2007," Working Papers 201022, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  8. John Cawley, 2004. "The Impact of Obesity on Wages," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
  9. Bound, John & Krueger, Alan B, 1991. "The Extent of Measurement Error in Longitudinal Earnings Data: Do Two Wrongs Make a Right?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(1), pages 1-24, January.
  10. John Cawley & Chad Meyerhoefer, 2010. "The Medical Care Costs of Obesity: An Instrumental Variables Approach," NBER Working Papers 16467, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Joshua D. Angrist & Alan B. Krueger, 2001. "Instrumental Variables and the Search for Identification: From Supply and Demand to Natural Experiments," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(4), pages 69-85, Fall.
  12. Brendan Kline & Justin L. Tobias, 2008. "The wages of BMI: Bayesian analysis of a skewed treatment-response model with nonparametric endogeneity," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(6), pages 767-793.
  13. 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.
  14. Cawley, John & Markowitz, Sara & Tauras, John, 2004. "Lighting up and slimming down: the effects of body weight and cigarette prices on adolescent smoking initiation," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 293-311, March.
  15. Michael Kortt & Andrew Leigh, 2010. "Does Size Matter in Australia?," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 86(272), pages 71-83, 03.
  16. 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.
  17. John Cawley & Richard V. Burkhauser, 2006. "Beyond BMI: The Value of More Accurate Measures of Fatness and Obesity in Social Science Research," NBER Working Papers 12291, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Aigner, Dennis J., 1973. "Regression with a binary independent variable subject to errors of observation," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 49-59, March.
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