, Volume 51, Issue 5, pp 1573–1596

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


  • Petter Lundborg
    • Centre for Economic Demography, and HEPLund University
    • Department of EconomicsLund University
    • Jönköping International Business School
    • Jönköping Academy for Improvement of Health and Welfare
    • Centre for Economic Demography, and HEPLund University
  • Dan-Olof Rooth
    • Centre for Economic Demography, and HEPLund University
    • Centre for Labour Market and Discrimination StudiesLinneaus University

DOI: 10.1007/s13524-014-0325-6

Cite this article as:
Lundborg, P., Nystedt, P. & Rooth, D. 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