August 2005

IZA DP No. 1704: Does Obesity Hurt Your Wages More in Dublin than in Madrid? Evidence from ECHP

published as 'Does body weight affect wages? Evidence from Europe' in: Economics and Human Biology, 2007, 5 (1), 1-19

We use data from the European Community Household Panel to investigate the impact of obesity on wages in 9 European countries, ranging from Ireland to Spain. We find that the common impact of obesity on wages is negative and statistically significant, independently of gender. Given the nature of European labor markets, however, we believe that a common impact is overly restrictive. When we allow this impact to vary across countries, we find a negative relationship between the BMI and wages in the countries of the European "olive belt" and a positive relationship in the countries of the "beer belt". We speculate that such difference could be driven by the interaction between the weather, BMI and individual (unobserved) productivity.