Direct and Indirect Effects of Teenage Body Weight on Adult Wages

37 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2009 Last revised: 24 Jul 2023

See all articles by Euna Han

Euna Han

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill; University of Illinois at Chicago

Edward C. Norton

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

Lisa M. Powell

University of Illinois at Chicago - Department of Health Policy and Administration (HPA)

Date Written: June 2009

Abstract

Previous estimates on the association between body weight and wages in the literature have been contingent on education and occupation. This paper examines the direct effect of BMI on wages and the indirect effects operating through education and occupation choice, particularly for late-teen BMI and adult wages. Using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 data, we show that education is the main pathway for the indirect BMI wage penalty. The total BMI wage penalty is underestimated by 18% for women without including those indirect effects. Whereas for men there is no statistically significant direct BMI wage penalty, we do observe a small indirect wage penalty through education.

Suggested Citation

Han, Euna and Norton, Edward C. and Powell, Lisa M., Direct and Indirect Effects of Teenage Body Weight on Adult Wages (June 2009). NBER Working Paper No. w15027, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1413591

Euna Han (Contact Author)

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill ( email )

102 Ridge Road
Chapel Hill, NC NC 27514
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University of Illinois at Chicago ( email )

1200 W Harrison St
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Edward C. Norton

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor ( email )

500 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
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Lisa M. Powell

University of Illinois at Chicago - Department of Health Policy and Administration (HPA) ( email )

1747 W. Roosevelt Road
MC 275
Chicago, IL 60608
United States