Weight and wages: Fat versus lean paychecks

Euna Han, Edward C. Norton, Sally C. Stearns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

90 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Past empirical work has shown a negative relationship between the body mass index (BMI) and wages in most cases. We improve on this work by allowing the marginal effect of non-linear BMI groups to vary by gender, age, and type of interpersonal relationships required in each occupation. We use the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 (1982-1998). We find that the often-reported negative relationship between the BMI and wages is larger in occupations requiring interpersonal skills with presumably more social interactions. Also, the wage penalty increases as the respondents get older beyond their mid-twenties. We show that being overweight and obese penalizes the probability of employment across all race-gender subgroups except black women and men. Our results for the obesity-wage association can be explained by either consumers or employers having distaste for obese workers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-548
Number of pages14
JournalHealth Economics
Volume18
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Policy

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