Obesity, Work, and Economic Security in Later Life

Christine Himes, Syracuse University
Madonna Harrington Meyer, Syracuse University

Obesity rates are rising dramatically in the U.S. Past research demonstrates that obesity negatively affects health, often leading to lessened mobility, increased chronic disease, and "early aging." Besides health effects, obesity is linked to lower wages and lower accumulations of wealth in later life. In this paper we explore the impact of obesity on middle and old age work status and work histories. Using data from the HRS we analyze the impact of obesity on labor force participation, number of hours worked, spells of unemployment, and retirement age. We find that obesity is more significant for women than men. Obese women are more likely to report they are work disabled and to use more sick days while working. Men who are obese are only slightly more likely than non-obese men to report being disabled and do not show a difference in the use of sick days among those who are employed.

  See paper

Presented in Session 157: Demography of Retirement