Body Composition and Wages

IZA Logo

IZA Seminar

Place: Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 9, 53113 Bonn

Date: 30.09.2008, 12:15 - 13:30


Presentation by 

Erdal Tekin (American University)


This paper examines the effect of body composition on wages. We develop measures of body composition– body fat (BF) and fat-free mass (FFM) – using data on bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) thatare available in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III and estimate wage modelsfor respondents in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979. Our results indicate that increasedbody fat is unambiguously associated with decreased wages for both males and females. This resultis in contrast to the mixed and sometimes inconsistent results from the previous research using bodymass index (BMI). We also find new evidence indicating that a higher level of fat-free body massis consistently associated with increased hourly wages. We present further evidence that these resultsare not the artifacts of unobserved heterogeneity. Our findings are robust to numerous specificationchecks and to a large number of alternative BIA prediction equations from which the body compositionmeasures are derived.

Download complete paper   
For more information, please contact