Obesity, Self-esteem and Wages
Obesity is associated with serious health problems, and it can generate adverse economic outcomes. We analyze a nationally-representative sample of young American adults to investigate the interplay between obesity, wages and self-esteem. Wages can be impacted directly by obesity, and they can be influenced by obesity indirectly through the channel of obesity to self-esteem to wages. We find that female wages are directly influenced by body weight, and self-esteem has an impact on wages in case of whites. Being overweight or obese has a negative impact on the self-esteem of females and of black males. The results suggest that obesity has the most significant impact on white women's wages.
We thank Duha Altindag and Tatsuya Hanabuchi for excellent research assistance. Sara Markowitz and the participants of the NBER seminar on the Economic Aspects of Obesity on Nov 10-11, 2008 provided valuable comments. The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.