Occupational Characteristics and the Obesity Wage Penalty

42 Pages Posted: 21 Jan 2014 Last revised: 30 Apr 2016

Date Written: October 7, 2015


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.

Keywords: Obesity, O*NET, Compensating differentials, Women, Discrimination

JEL Classification: J16, J24, J31, J71, I10

Suggested Citation

Shinall, Jennifer Bennett, Occupational Characteristics and the Obesity Wage Penalty (October 7, 2015). Vanderbilt Law and Economics Research Paper No. 16-12, Vanderbilt Public Law Research Paper No. 16-23, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2379575 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2379575

Jennifer Bennett Shinall (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - Law School ( email )

131 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203-1181
United States

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics