Occupational Characteristics and the Obesity Wage Penalty
Jennifer Bennett Shinall
Vanderbilt University - Law School
October 7, 2015
Vanderbilt Law and Economics Research Paper No. 16-12
Vanderbilt Public Law Research Paper No. 16-23
This paper demonstrates that obese women are more likely to work in jobs that emphasize physical activity, but they are less likely to work in jobs that emphasize public interaction. The same patterns in occupational characteristics do not exist for obese men. In light of prior literature finding an unexplained wage gap between obese women and non-obese women, these results are particularly relevant since physical activity jobs pay relatively less on average, while public interaction jobs pay relatively more. Moreover, the few obese women who work in public interaction occupations receive lower wages than non-obese women, and their wage penalty offsets the general premium to working in a job emphasizing public interaction. Together, these results suggest that taste-based discrimination may be driving occupational sorting among obese women and, as a result, is at least one source of the wage penalty experienced by obese women.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 42
Keywords: Obesity, O*NET, Compensating differentials, Women, Discrimination
JEL Classification: J16, J24, J31, J71, I10
Date posted: January 21, 2014 ; Last revised: April 30, 2016
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