Body mass index and employment status: a new look
HERO WP 2015/3: Authors: Jonas Minet Kinge, Norwegian Institute of Public Health and Department of Health Management and Health Economics, University of Oslo
Earlier literature has usually modelled the impact of obesity on employment status as a binary choice (employed, yes/no). I provide new evidence on the impact of obesity on employment status by treating the dependent variable as a as a multinomial choice variable. Using data from a representative English survey, with measured height and weight on parents and children, I define employment status as one of four: working; looking for paid work; permanently not working due to disability; and, looking after home or family. I use a multinomial logit model controlling for a set of covariates and I instrument for BMI based on genetic variation in weight. I find that BMI and obesity has a statistically significant impact on the probability of “not working due to disability”. The results for the other employment outcomes are less clear. My findings also suggest that the reason for the impact of obesity on employment is due to obesity being a deliberating health condition. Factors other than health may be less important in explaining the impact of BMI/obesity on employment.