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