The Weight Wage Penalty: A Mechanism Approach to Discrimination.

Journal article
(Original article)

Publication Details

Author(s): Bozoyan C, Wolbring T
Journal: European Sociological Review
Publication year: 2018
ISSN: 0266-7215


The wage weight penalty is a well-established finding in the literature,
but not much is known about the mechanisms that bring this phenomenon
about. This article aims to provide answers to the question of why
overweight and obese people earn less. Using the data of the German
Socio-Economic Panel, we conduct three theory-driven litmus tests for
mechanisms that explain the weight wage gap: human capital differences,
discrimination due to asymmetric information, or taste-based
discrimination. Due to conflicting predictions from the three theories,
interaction effects between weight and structural conditions serve as
the key identification strategy. Results show that for men,
productivity-related variables (e.g. education, work experience,
occupation, and physical health) almost completely explain the
weight-specific variance in wages. In contrast, for women, neither
performance nor a lack of information can solve the puzzle of
weight-based differences in wages. We therefore conclude that—at least
in Germany—overweight and obese women suffer from taste-based
discrimination, whereas overweight and obese men earn less due to human
capital differences.

FAU Authors / FAU Editors

Wolbring, Tobias Prof. Dr.
Lehrstuhl für Empirische Wirtschaftssoziologie

How to cite

Bozoyan, C., & Wolbring, T. (2018). The Weight Wage Penalty: A Mechanism Approach to Discrimination. European Sociological Review.

Bozoyan, Christiane, and Tobias Wolbring. "The Weight Wage Penalty: A Mechanism Approach to Discrimination." European Sociological Review (2018).


Last updated on 2019-03-01 at 17:10