Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Papers,
Hanken School of Economics

No 528: The Effect of Obesity on Wages and Employment: The Difference Between Having a High BMI and Being Fat

Edvard Johansson (), Petri Böckerman (), Urpo Kiiskinen () and Markku Heliövaara ()
Additional contact information
Edvard Johansson: Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration, Postal: Arkadiankatu 22, P.O.B. 479; FIN 00101 Helsinki, Finland
Petri Böckerman: Labour Institute for Economic Research, Postal: Pitkänsillanranta 3 A, FIN-00530 Helsinki, Finland
Urpo Kiiskinen: National Public Health Institute, Postal: Mannerheimintie 166, FIN-00300 Helsinki, Finland
Markku Heliövaara: National Public Health Institute, Postal: Mannerheimintie 166, FIN-00300 Helsinki, Finland

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

23 pages, June 13, 2007

Price: 10

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