Health and wages: evidence on men and women in urban Brazil

J Econom. 1997;77:159-85. doi: 10.1016/s0304-4076(96)01811-8.


PIP: This study examines the impact of 4 health measures on wages of urban workers in Brazil. Data are obtained from the 1974-75 Estudo Nacional da Despesa Familiar among a sample population over 14 years old for wages earned by respondents 15-50 years old. The 4 health measures include height, body mass index (weight divided by height squared), per capita calorie intake, and per capita protein intake. Findings indicate that health measures significantly affected wages, even after accounting for endogeneity. Taller men and women earned more, even after controlling for education and other health measures. Body mass index affected only men's wages. The effect of height was larger for men. Body mass index had a larger impact on wages among persons with low levels of education. Nutrient intake affected wages of men and women in the market sector. More protein had the greatest return at high levels of intake, depending upon calorie intake, mass, and height. Height was a strong predictor of wages for self-employed men only. Body mass index affected the wages of only self-employed men with little or no education. Neither protein or caloric intake significantly affected wages of the self-employed. Models controlled for selection into the labor market and the choice between market and self-employment sectors in the estimated hazard rates based on multinomial logits, according to Heckman (1974) and Lee (1983). It is assumed that relative food prices and nonlabor income had no direct effect on wages. Findings suggest that health produces a substantial return in the formal sector of Brazilian labor markets.

MeSH terms

  • Americas
  • Biology
  • Body Height*
  • Body Weight*
  • Brazil
  • Demography
  • Developing Countries
  • Diet*
  • Economics
  • Employment*
  • Energy Intake*
  • Health
  • Health Workforce
  • Income*
  • Latin America
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Physiology
  • Population
  • Population Characteristics
  • Research
  • Salaries and Fringe Benefits*
  • Sex Factors*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • South America
  • Statistics as Topic*
  • Urban Population*