The missing obese men? Labour force participation and obesity among prime-age men in the United States
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The declining labour force participation among men between the ages 25 and 54 in the United State has attracted the attention of policymakers and the public. I document this trend by obesity status during the period 1990–2016 using the Behavioural Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey. I find that the likelihood of being out of the labour force has been increasing by approximately 0.22 percentage points every year on average for non-obese men, while that of obese men has been increasing by approximately 0.28 percentage points. This indicates that the difference in the propensity to be out of the labour force has widened by 1.6 percentage points between the obese and the non-obese during 1990–2016. It seems that the labour force participation gap between obese men and non-obese men started to increase during the housing bubble period, 2001–2007. The difference in the trends seems to be driven by non-Hispanic whites, men without a college degree, and men aged 25–44.
KeywordsObesity Labour force participation BMI Overweight Employment
JEL ClassificationI20 J20 J82
I thank three anonymous referees for their useful comments and suggestions.
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