Working Papers, Hanken School of Economics
The Effect of Obesity on Wages and Employment: The Difference Between Having a High BMI and Being Fat
(), Petri Böckerman
(), Urpo Kiiskinen
() and Markku Heliövaara
Abstract: In this paper, we re-examine the relationship between
overweight and labour market success, using indicators of individual body
composition along with BMI (Body Mass Index). We use the dataset from
Finland in which weight, height, fat mass and waist circumference are not
self-reported, but obtained as part of the overall health examination. We
find that waist circumference, but not weight or fat mass, has a negative
effect on wages for women, whereas all measures of obesity have negative
effects on women’s employment probabilities. For men, the only obesity
measure that is significant for men’s employment probabilities is fat mass.
One interpretation of our findings is that the negative wage effects of
overweight on wages run through the discrimination channel, but that the
negative effects of overweight on employment have more to do with ill
health. All in all, measures of body composition provide a more refined
picture about the effects of obesity on wages and employment.
Keywords: wages; employment; bmi; overweight; obesity; fatness; adiposity; (follow links to similar papers)
23 pages, June 13, 2007
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