Gender Issues

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 30–49 | Cite as

What explains race and gender differences in the relationship between obesity and wages?

  • John Cawley

Abstract

Previous research has consistently found strong race and gender differences in the correlation between obesity and wages. This paper tests four possible explanations for these differences: (1) there is voluntary sorting of the obese into jobs with better health benefits at the expense of lower wages, that differs by gender and race/ethnicity; (2) weight affects self-esteem or depression in a manner that varies by gender and race/ethnicity; (3) weight affects physical health and disability in a manner that varies by gender and race/ethnicity; (4) there is weight-based discrimination in employment that differs by gender and race/ethnicity. Using National Longitudinal Survey of Youth data for 1981–2000, this paper finds evidence consistent with the physical health and disability hypothesis, but little evidence to support the other three hypotheses.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Averett, S. & Korenman, S. 1996. “The Economic Reality of the Beauty Myth”, Journal of Human Resources 31 (2): 304–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. — 1999. “Black-White Differences in Social and Economic Consequences of Obesity.” International Journal of Obesity, 23: 166–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Becker, G. S. 1971. The Economics of Discrimination, 2 nd Edition. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago PressGoogle Scholar
  4. Biddle, J. E. & Hamermesh, D. S. 1998. “Beauty, Productivity, and Discrimination: Lawyer's Looks and Lucre.” Journal of Labor Economics, 16(1): 172–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bound, J., Brown, C., & Mathiowetz, N. 2002. “Measurement Error in Survey Data,” in: J. Heckman & E. Leamer (eds.) Handbook of Econometrics, volume 5, New York, NY: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  6. Brown, P. J. & Bentley-Condit, V. K. 1998. “Culture, Evolution, and Obesity,” In G. A. Bray, C. Bouchard, & W.P.T. James (eds.),” Handbook of Obesity, New York, NY: Marcel Dekker.Google Scholar
  7. Burkhauser, R. & J. Cawley, 2004, “Obesity, Disability, and the Movement onto DI and SSI.” Paper to be presented at the conference “The Future of Social Security”, sponsored by the Office of Policy, Social Security Administration and the Michigan Retirement Research Consortium.Google Scholar
  8. Cameron, A. C. & Trivedi, P. K. 1998. Regression Analysis of Count Data, New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Cawley, J. 2000. “An Instrumental Variables Approach to Measuring the Effect of Obesity on Employment Disability”, Health Services Research 35(5): 1159–79.Google Scholar
  10. — 2004. “The Impact of Obesity on Wages.” Journal of Human Resources, 39(2): 452–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cawley, J. & Danziger, S. 2004. “Obesity as a Barrier to Employment and Earnings for Current and Former Welfare Recipients.” National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper #10508.Google Scholar
  12. Epstein, F. H. & Higgins, M.. “Epidemiology of Obesity.” in P. Bjorntorp & B. N. Brodoff (eds.), Obesity. New York, NY: J. B. Lippincott Company.Google Scholar
  13. Field, A. E., Barnoya, J., & Colditz, G. A. 2002. “Epidemiology and Health and Economic Consequences of Obesity.” in T. A. Wadden & A. J. Stunkard (eds.) Handbook of Obesity Treatment, New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  14. Flegal, K. M., Carroll, M.D., Ogden, C. L., & Johnson, C. L. 2002. “Prevalence and Trends in Obesity among U.S. Adults, 1999–2000.” JAMA, 288(14): 1723–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gallup Organization, 2003. “Poll Analyses: Smoking Edges Out Obesity as Employment Liability.” August 7.Google Scholar
  16. Gujarati, D. N. 1995. Basic Econometrics, 3 rd Edition, New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  17. Halpern, C. T., Udry, J. R., Campbell, B., & Suchindran, C. 1999. “Effects of Body Fat on Weight Concerns, Dating, and Sexual Activity: A Longgitudinal Analysis of Black and White Adolescent Girls.” Developmental Psychology 35(3): 721–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hamermesh, D. S. & Biddle, J. E. 1994. “Beauty and the Labor Market.” American Economic Review, 84(5): 1174–94.Google Scholar
  19. Jensen, A. R. 1978. “The g behind Factor Analysis.” In R. R. Ronning, J. A. Glover, J. C. Conoley, & J. C. Dewitt (eds.), The Influence of Cognitive Psychology on Testing and Measurement. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Publishing.Google Scholar
  20. Judge, G. G., Griffiths, W. E., Carter Hill, R., Lutkepohl, H., & Tsoung-Chao L. 1985. The Theory and Practice of Econometrics, 2nd edition, New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons.Google Scholar
  21. Lee, L-F. & Sepanski, J. H. “Estimation of Linear and Nonlinear Errors-in-Variables Models Using Validation Data.” Journal of the American Statistical Association 90, 429: 130–40.Google Scholar
  22. Manson, J. E., Skerrett, P. J., & Willett, W. C. 2002. “Epidemiology of Health Risks Associated with Obesity.” In: Fairburn, Christopher G. and Kelly D. Brownell. Eating Disorders and Obesity: A Comprehensive Handbook, 2 nd Edition, New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  23. Pi-Sunyer, F. X. 2002. “Medical Complications of Obesity in Adults.” In C. G. Fairburn and Kelly D. Brownell, Eating Disorders and Obesity: A Comprehensive Handbook, 2 nd Edition, New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  24. Puhl, R. & Brownell, K. D. 2001. “Bias, Discrimination, and Obesity.” Obesity Research, 9(12): 788–805.Google Scholar
  25. Roehling, M. V. 1999. “Weight-Based Discrimination in Employment: Psychological and Legal Aspects,” Personnel Psychology, 52(4): 969–1016.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Sobal, J. 2004. “Sociological Analysis of the Stigmatisation of Obesity.” In J. Germov & L. Williams (eds.), “A Sociology of Food and Nutrition: The Social Appetite. 2 nd edition. Melbourne: John Wiley. Pp 383–402.Google Scholar
  27. U. S. National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. 1998. Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults. Washington, D.C.: National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© by Transaction Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Cawley
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell UniversityUSA

Personalised recommendations