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Estimating the Effects of Wages on Obesity

Kim, DaeHwan PhD; Leigh, John Paul PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: May 2010 - Volume 52 - Issue 5 - p 495-500
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181dbc867
Original Articles

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.

From the Korea Insurance Research Institutes (Dr Kim), Seoul, Korea; and Center for Healthcare Policy and Research and Department of Public Health Sciences (Dr Leigh), University of California-Davis, Davis, Calif.

CME Available for this Article at

DaeHwan Kim and J. Paul Leigh have no financial interest in this research.

The JOEM Board and planners have no financial interest related to this research.

Address correspondence to: John Paul Leigh, PhD, Department of Public Health Sciences, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA 95616-8638; E-mail:

©2010The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine