Fatter Attraction: Marital Status and the Relationship between BMI and Labor Supply

33 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2009

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 7, 2009


We empirically analyze the labor supply choices of married men and women according to their body size (BMI), using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics on anthropometric characteristics of both spouses, and unmarried men and women as comparison group. Heavier husbands are found to work significantly more hours and earn more labor income, controlling for both spouses’ demographic and socioeconomic characteristics. Conversely, no such effect is found for either unmarried individuals or for married women. We suggest a marriage market mechanism through which male BMI and earnings are positively related. Heavier married men compensate for their negative physical trait by providing their wives with more disposable income, working more hours and earning more. Heavier women may not able to compensate their spouse through labor supply, as female physical traits are more relevant in the marriage market than the corresponding male traits.

Keywords: body size, labor supply, earnings, marriage

JEL Classification: D1, I1, J1, J22

Suggested Citation

Oreffice, Sonia and Quintana-Domeque, Climent, Fatter Attraction: Marital Status and the Relationship between BMI and Labor Supply (August 7, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1445545 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1445545

Sonia Oreffice (Contact Author)

University of Surrey ( email )

Guildford, Surrey GU2 5XH
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/soniaoreffice/

Climent Quintana-Domeque

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

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