Obesity and women's labor supply. Is there a marriage market effect?

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Date and Time: 
Monday, April 24, 2017
2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Shoshana Grossbard
San Diego State University

Obesity can affect labor supply via its effects on outcomes in both labor markets and marriage markets. To the extent that it is associated with lower prospects of being in couple and obtaining intra-couple transfers we expect that obesity will increase willingness to supply labor in labor markets, especially in the case for women. We use US panel data from the NLSY97 to examine whether women’s body weight influences hours of work in the labor market. To better separate between labor markets and marriage markets effects we estimate regressions that include and exclude wage. Sister’s BMI is used to instrument for own BMI. It appears that obese white women work significantly more in the labor force than their counterparts who are not obese, even after we control for wages. This suggests that how extra weight influences success in dating and marriage markets has an effect on the labor supply of women.