NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


March 5, 2008

As Americans get fatter, fat women are experiencing progressively worse treatment on the job, according to a new study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

One might expect that anti-fat bias would diminish, the fatter we all become, but the study reports that increasing obesity is having the opposite effect:

  • In 1981, a woman in the 75th percentile on the Body Mass Index (roughly 165 pounds for a 5-foot-4-inch woman) could expect wages 4.29 percent lower than those of her colleague in the 25th percentile (roughly 120 pounds).
  • The BLS found that between 1981 and 2000, as the percentage of American white women who are overweight and obese expanded from 12.6 percent to 50.4 percent, the wage penalty for obesity nearly doubled.

In 2000, the same hypothetical woman's wage penalty for her excess weight had risen to 7.47 percent. The fatter we get, it seems, the bigger the premium on thinness, says the Atlantic.

Source: "Size Matters," The Atlantic, March 2008.

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