Implementing a regression discontinuity design to explore the heterogeneous effects of obesity on labour income: the case of Mexico
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This study aims to explore within-country heterogeneity in the causal relationship between body mass and labour income. We focus on Mexico, which is an emerging country where overweight is predominant and hunger has become marginal.
Subjects and methods
Based on the working-age population from the Mexican Family Life Survey (2002–2012), we use a regression discontinuity design to test for significant discontinuities along the body mass-income relationship. More specifically, we investigate the presence of income gaps along the body mass distribution.
Our findings suggest that the overweight status is not particularly penalised in the Mexican labour market. By contrast, the obesity status decreases hourly wages by about 15%. Regarding heterogeneity, obesity-related wage penalties are stronger for female than male employees and higher in service employments, urban areas and the latest survey.
We conclude on a co-occurrence of pro- and anti-fat social norms in emerging countries. Our results might be generalised to other middle-income economies with similar nutritional patterns where hunger is marginal and overweight predominant.
KeywordsMexico Emerging countries Labour income Obesity Regression discontinuity design
JEL classificationO1 J3 I1
Compliance with ethical standards
The author declares that he has no financial and non-financial conflict of interest. No ethical approval is required to use the Mexican Family Life Survey. This database is anonymous and does not contain personal information. Please see the website for more information about the data: www.ennvih-mxfls.org. The author is responsible for all remaining errors.
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