Thursday, May 26, 2005

Obesity and economics: BMI influences family income for women

A new working paper on the National Bureau of Economic Research site reports that higher BMI seems to contribute to lower family income for women, but not for men. The study was covered by Reuters and picked up by the Diet Blog. This research appears to corroborate a pattern reported by John Cawley in an article in the Journal of Human Resources, which we covered here. As Cawley explains well, it is difficult but perhaps possible to distinguish two leading explanations for the negative association between weight and income: (1) the labor market may discriminate against or otherwise penalize people who are heavier, or (2) people with lower wages may have more trouble affording the exercise club memberships and cool foods that keep the wealthy slim.

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