Quantile regression analysis of body mass on wages

John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Health Economics, 2012, 21 (5), pp. 597 - 611
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Using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979, we explore the relationship between body mass and wages. We use quantile regression to provide a broad description of the relationship across the wage distribution. We also allow the relationship to vary by the degree of social skills involved in different jobs. Our results find that for female workers body mass and wages are negatively correlated at all points in their wage distribution. The strength of the relationship is larger at higher-wage levels. For male workers, the relationship is relatively constant across wage distribution but heterogeneous across ethnic groups. When controlling for the endogeneity of body mass, we find that additional body mass has a negative causal impact on the wages of white females earning more than the median wages and of white males around the median wages. Among these workers, the wage penalties are larger for those employed in jobs that require extensive social skills. These findings may suggest that labor markets reward white workers for good physical shape differently, depending on the level of wages and the type of job a worker has.
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