Estimating the effects of wages on obesity

J Occup Environ Med. 2010 May;52(5):495-500. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181dbc867.


Objectives: To estimate the effects of wages on obesity and body mass.

Methods: Data on household heads, aged 20 to 65 years, with full-time jobs, were drawn from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics for 2003 to 2007. The Panel Study of Income Dynamics is a nationally representative sample. Instrumental variables (IV) for wages were created using knowledge of computer software and state legal minimum wages. Least squares (linear regression) with corrected standard errors were used to estimate the equations.

Results: Statistical tests revealed both instruments were strong and tests for over-identifying restrictions were favorable. Wages were found to be predictive (P < 0.05) of obesity and body mass in regressions both before and after applying IVs. Coefficient estimates suggested stronger effects in the IV models.

Conclusion: Results are consistent with the hypothesis that low wages increase obesity prevalence and body mass.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / economics*
  • Salaries and Fringe Benefits*
  • United States
  • Young Adult