December 2, 2011
WASHINGTONThere is an overall wage differential between those of normal weight and those who are obese, especially when it comes to women who earn on average 14.6% less than their normal weight counterparts, according to a new report from George Washington Universitys School of Public Health and Health Services Department of Health Policy.
The researchers examined 2004 and 2008 data in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79) to quantify obesity-attributable wage gaps, and found the connection between obesity and reduced wages to be stronger and more persistent among females than males. In 2004, wages among the obese were $8,666 less for females and $4,772 lower for males. In 2008, wages were $5,826 less for obese females, a 14.6% penalty over normal weight females.
They also found significant differences in wages dependent upon race. In 2004, Hispanic women who were obese earned $6,618 less than those who were normal weight. In 2008, the differential doubled for Hispanic men who were obese to earnings of $8,394 less than normal weight counterparts, while for women the gap narrowed slightly.
They also found Caucasian women who are obese experienced a wage penalty in both 2004 and 2008, while Caucasian men only experienced a differential in 2004. Hispanic women who were obese experienced a wage differential in both 2004 and 2008; Hispanic men who were obese only experienced a wage differential in 2008.
This research broadens the growing body of evidence that shows that in addition to taxing health, obesity significantly affects personal finances," said Christine Ferguson, J.D., Professor in the Department of Health Policy. It also reinforces how prevalent stigma is when it comes to weight-related health issues."
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