Assessing the impact of obesity on labor market outcomes

Maarten Lindeboom, Petter Lundborg, Bas Van Der Klaauw

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We study the effect of obesity on employment, using rich data from the British National Child Development Study (NCDS). The results show a significant negative association between obesity and employment even after controlling for a rich set of demographic, socioeconomic, environmental and behavioral variables. In order to account for the endogeneity of obesity, we use and assess instruments introduced by Cawley (2004); the obesity status of biological relatives. Using parental obesity as an instrument, we show that the association between obesity and employment is no longer significant. Similar results are obtained in a model of first differences. We provide a number of different checks on the instruments, by exploiting the richness of the NCDS data. The results show mixed evidence regarding the validity of the instruments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-319
Number of pages11
JournalEconomics and Human Biology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Employment
  • Endogeneity
  • Instruments
  • Obesity
  • Panel data

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