What is the Full Cost of Body Mass in the Workplace? Public Deposited

Downloadable Content

Download PDF
Last Modified
  • March 19, 2019
  • Harris, Matthew Christopher
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Economics
  • This dissertation discusses results obtained by formulating and estimating a dynamic stochastic model of individuals' annual joint decisions of occupation, hours worked, and schooling. A standard dynamic occupational choice model is augmented by allowing body weight to affect the non-monetary costs and distribution of wages for each occupation. The model also captures the effects of individuals' employment decisions on body weight in subsequent periods through on-job activity levels, disposable income and time available for leisure. Conditional density estimation is used to model the stochastic evolution of body weight and formulate the distributions of wages in each occupation. I estimate the model using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1979 cohort, the Dictionary of Occupational Titles, and Occupational Information Network. Results suggest individuals with higher body weight are likely to incur wage penalties in occupations with intense social requirements. Further, individuals with excess body weight earn lower returns to experience and face greater switching costs in white-collar occupations than healthy weight individuals. Simulating the model with estimated parameters, I find that halving the weight-specific frictions in switching occupations reduces the gap in wages between the obese and non-obese by 12%. Further, an exogenous reduction in an individual's initial body mass by 10% leads to a 1.5% increase in wages over the life course, and increases the probability of attaining employment in professional occupations by 5%.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Gilleskie, Donna B.
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Graduation year
  • 2013

This work has no parents.