The Economic Reality of the Beauty Myth

48 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2000

See all articles by Susan L. Averett

Susan L. Averett

Lafayette College - Department of Economics & Business

Sanders Korenman

City University of New York - School of Public Affairs; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: November 1993

Abstract

We investigate income, marital status, and hourly pay differentials by body mass (kg/m2) in a sample of 23 to 31 year olds drawn from the 1988 NLSY. Obese women have lower family incomes than women whose weight-for-height is in the 'recommended' range. Results for men are weaker and mixed. We find similar results when we compare same-sex siblings in order to control for family background (e.g., social class) differences. Differences in economic status by body mass for women increase markedly when we use an earlier weight measure or restrict the sample to persons who were single and childless when the early weight was reported. There is some evidence of labor market discrimination against obese women. However, differences in marriage probabilities and in spouse's earnings account for 50 to 95 percent of their lower economic status. There is no evidence that obese African American women suffer an economic penalty relative to other African American women.

Suggested Citation

Averett, Susan and Korenman, Sanders, The Economic Reality of the Beauty Myth (November 1993). NBER Working Paper No. w4521. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=226763

Susan Averett (Contact Author)

Lafayette College - Department of Economics & Business ( email )

Easton, PA 18042
United States
610-250-5307 (Phone)
610-250-8961 (Fax)

Sanders Korenman

City University of New York - School of Public Affairs ( email )

135 E 22nd St
New York, NY 10010
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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