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Big and Tall: Is there a Height Premium or Obesity Penalty in the Labor Market?

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  • Lee, Wang-Sheng

    () (Deakin University)

Abstract

Previous studies have shown that both height and weight are associated with wages. However, by focusing on interpreting the partial effects of either height or weight on wages while holding all else constant, some gaps in our understanding of the complex relationship between body size and wages remain. Utilizing a semi-parametric spline approach, we first establish that a flexible analysis of height and weight provides a useful and meaningful proxy for beauty. A similar flexible analysis of height, weight and wages reveals that some combinations of anthropometric measurements attract higher wage premiums than others and that the optimal combination varies over the life cycle. A main contribution of the paper is in suggesting a novel and practical way of examining the returns to looks in the labor market based on objective anthropometric measurements.

Suggested Citation

  • Lee, Wang-Sheng, 2014. "Big and Tall: Is there a Height Premium or Obesity Penalty in the Labor Market?," IZA Discussion Papers 8606, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp8606
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    Cited by:

    1. Wang-Sheng Lee & Zhong Zhao, 2017. "Height, Weight and Well-Being for Rural, Urban and Migrant Workers in China," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 132(1), pages 117-136, May.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    semi-parametric; P-spline; height; wages; weight;

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing

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