Anthropometry and Socioeconomics in the Couple: Evidence from the PSID

36 Pages Posted: 2 Jul 2009

Date Written: July 2, 2009


We empirically analyze the marriage market aspects of body size, weight and height in the US using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics on anthropometric characteristics of both spouses. Gender-asymmetric tradeoffs arise within couples between physical and socioeconomic traits, but also between anthropometric traits, with significant penalties for fatter women and shorter men. Wives’ obesity (body size or weight) measures are negatively correlated with their husbands’ income, education and height, controlling for his weight (or body size) and her height, along with spouses’ demographic and socioeconomic characteristics. Conversely, heavier husbands are not penalized by matching with poorer or shorter wives, but only with less educated women. Men’s and women’s height are both valued in the market, with shorter men matched to heavier and less educated wives, and shorter women to poorer and less educated husbands (the latter effect only shows up in 2005).

Keywords: weight, height, BMI, marriage market

JEL Classification: D1, I1, J1

Suggested Citation

Oreffice, Sonia and Quintana-Domeque, Climent, Anthropometry and Socioeconomics in the Couple: Evidence from the PSID (July 2, 2009). Available at SSRN: or

Sonia Oreffice (Contact Author)

University of Surrey ( email )

Guildford, Surrey GU2 5XH
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://

Climent Quintana-Domeque

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

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