Obesity Based Labour Market Discrimination in South Africa: A Dynamic Panel Analysis

Working paper 703
Author(s): 
Junita Henry and Umakrishnan Kollamparambil
Publication date: 
August, 2017
Journal: 
Journal of Public Health
Classification-JEL: 

There is increasing concern regarding obesity related healthcare costs in South Africa. Obesity is also seen to have far reaching effects that seep into labour market outcomes (Barnett & Kumar, 2009). Using NIDS panel data, this study aims to examine the relationship between Body Mass Index and employment status as well as wage levels. This is done using a probit and tobit model and thereafter a system GMM model to take endogeneity into account. Thereafter, the paper uses ethnicity backed obesity thresholds to measure the discrimination obese individuals face on the probability of becoming employed and their wages earned once employed. It is found that obesity is indeed, an influencing factor and a source of discrimination within the labour market in South Africa. Moreover, this discrimination is seen to be more so for females than males.

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