Gender, Body Mass and Economic Status

Dalton Conley, Rebecca Glauber

NBER Working Paper No. 11343
Issued in May 2005
NBER Program(s):Health Economics

Previous research on the effect of body mass on economic outcomes has used a variety of methods to mitigate endogeneity bias. We extend this research by using an older sample of U.S. individuals from the PSID. This sample allows us to examine age-gender interactive effects. Through sibling-random and fixed effects models, we find that a one percent increase in a woman's body mass results in a .6 percentage point decrease in her family income and a .4 percentage point decrease in her occupational prestige measured 13 to 15 years later. Body mass is also associated with a reduction in a woman's likelihood of marriage, her spouse's occupational prestige, and her spouse's earnings. However, consistent with past research, men experience no negative effects of body mass on economic outcomes. Age splits show that it is among younger adults where BMI effects are most robust, lending support to the interpretation that it is BMI causing occupational outcomes and not the reverse.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w11343

Published: Conley, Dalton and Rebecca Glauber. “Gender, Body Mass and Socioeconomic Status: New Evidence from the PSID.” Advances in Health Economics and Health Services Research 17 (2006): 255-280.

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