Occupational, Sectoral and Firm Level Sorting Among Overweight and Obese Individuals in the UK Labour Market

Kesaite, V., Mujica Mota, R. E. and Ukoumunne, O. C. (2019) Occupational, Sectoral and Firm Level Sorting Among Overweight and Obese Individuals in the UK Labour Market. 2019 World Congress on Health Economics, Basel. Switzerland, 13-17 Jul 2019.

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Individuals sort across various occupations (professional vs. manual work), sectors of the economy (private vs. public), and firms (large vs. small). This sorting is driven by individual worker productivity and the labour demand for the corresponding skills. Earlier studies on the impact of obesity on employment outcomes have neither accounted for occupation, sector or firm size-specific obesity penalties nor whether obese persons are more likely to be employed in certain occupations, firms and economic sectors. In a seminal contribution, Rooth (2008) observes that restaurant work has the highest share of obese employees and also the highest obesity penalties. We build on this result and explore occupational, sectoral and firm level sorting in the UK labour market using the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS). More specifically, we aim to shed light on the question of whether higher weight men and women are by and large relegated to different occupations, firms and economic sectors than lower weight counterparts. Occupational, sectoral and firm size sorting is analysed using multinomial logit and probit regressions. Given the possibility of a reverse causal relationship between occupation, firm size, economic sector and obesity, we use child’s BMI as an instrument for individual’s body weight. We estimate the model using the control function approach. To investigate the non-linear relationship between BMI and wages, we use a semi-parametric instrumental variable approach using the Robinson’s double residual method whereby we estimate wage differences relative to wages at a BMI of 23 for women and 27 for men. There are 6,248 men and 7,563 women in the sample with an average age of 42 for both men and women. The test of endogeneity indicates that respondent’s BMI is exogenous in the occupation equation. Results using multinomial logit regression suggest that compared to normal weight men, obese men are less likely to choose a semi-skilled occupation compared to a skilled occupation (RRR: 0.66; CI: 0.55 and 0.80), while the average marginal effects from the IV regression suggest that it is unclear whether higher weight would increase or decrease the predicted probability of working in a skilled occupation for men (AME: -0.09; CI: -0.45 and 0.28). For women, the results of the multinomial logit regression suggest that as body mass index increases, women are more likely to be employed in skilled jobs compared to semi-skilled (RRR: 0.97; CI: 0.95 and 0.99). Similarly, the IV results suggest that, a one unit increase in a woman’s BMI results in an increase in the probability of being employed in a skilled occupation (AME: 0.13; CI: 0.05 and 0.22). These findings suggest that overweight/obese men and women are more likely to be in jobs which have been previously observed in the literature to be most adversely affected in terms of obesity penalties.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Kesaite, Dr Viktorija
Authors: Kesaite, V., Mujica Mota, R. E., and Ukoumunne, O. C.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
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