, Volume 51, Issue 5, pp 1573–1596

Body Size, Skills, and Income: Evidence From 150,000 Teenage Siblings


DOI: 10.1007/s13524-014-0325-6

Cite this article as:
Lundborg, P., Nystedt, P. & Rooth, DO. Demography (2014) 51: 1573. doi:10.1007/s13524-014-0325-6


We provide new evidence on the long-run labor market penalty of teenage overweight and obesity using unique and large-scale data on 150,000 male siblings from the Swedish military enlistment. Our empirical analysis provides four important results. First, we provide the first evidence of a large adult male labor market penalty for being overweight or obese as a teenager. Second, we replicate this result using data from the United States and the United Kingdom. Third, we note a strikingly strong within-family relationship between body size and cognitive skills/noncognitive skills. Fourth, a large part of the estimated body-size penalty reflects lower skill acquisition among overweight and obese teenagers. Taken together, these results reinforce the importance of policy combating early-life obesity in order to reduce healthcare expenditures as well as poverty and inequalities later in life.



Supplementary material

13524_2014_325_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (261 kb)
ESM 1(PDF 260 kb)

Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Petter Lundborg
    • 3
    • 4
  • Paul Nystedt
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Dan-Olof Rooth
    • 3
    • 5
  1. 1.Jönköping International Business SchoolJönköpingSweden
  2. 2.Jönköping Academy for Improvement of Health and WelfareJönköpingSweden
  3. 3.Centre for Economic Demography, and HEPLund UniversityLundSweden
  4. 4.Department of EconomicsLund UniversityLundSweden
  5. 5.Centre for Labour Market and Discrimination StudiesLinneaus UniversityKalmarSweden