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Abstract

This paper estimates the impacts of weight, measured by body mass index (BMI), on employment, wages, and missed work due to illness for Russian adults by gender using recent panel data (1994-2005) from the nationally representative Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey (RLMS). We employ econometric techniques to control for unobserved heterogeneity and potential biases due to endogeneity in BMI. The results show an inverted U-shaped effect of BMI on probability of employment for men and women. We did not find evidence of wage penalty for higher BMI. In fact, the wages for overweigh men are higher. However, having a BMI above 28.3 increases the number of days missing work due to health problems for men. Overall, we find negative effects of obesity on employment only for women but not on wages. During the transition in Russia, the increasingly competitive pressure in the labour market combined with economic insecurity faced by the population has lead to a muted impact of an individual’s weight on labour market outcomes.

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