Entry Body Mass and Earnings: Once Penalized, Ever Penalized?

Tae Hyun Kim, Euna Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


It has previously been reported that an individual’s body mass index (BMI) contemporaneously penalizes wages for women, but has no effect and sometimes rewards wages for men. In young adults, we estimate the association of BMI status with initial wages to assess whether initial BMI at the beginning of an individual’s career affects initial and later earnings. We pooled data from 388 men and 305 women, aged 20–40 years, with BMI information for the first year of employment, using the Korean Labor and Income Panel Study. A labor market penalty for a higher BMI among women was found only for overweight or obese segments, particularly those with relatively higher monthly wages. Meanwhile, a higher BMI in underweight or normal weight segments could reward employment probability for women and monthly wages for men. Such rewards of relatively higher monthly wages were also estimated for men in the overweight segment. Our findings suggest discrimination as one factor penalizing higher BMI in the labor market.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)332-346
Number of pages15
JournalBiodemography and Social Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Oct 2

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research support from the Korea National Research Foundation (2017R1A2B4003373) is gratefully acknowledged. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official view of the Korea National Research Foundation. The Korea National Research Foundation had no involvement in preparation and submission of this manuscript. All authors have no conflict of interest to disclose.

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the the Korea National Research Foundation (2017R1A2B4003373).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Society for Biodemography and Social Biology.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Demography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology
  • Genetics


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