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Abstract

We investigate wage effects of deviations from peer group body mass index (BMI) to evaluate the influence of social norms on wages. Our approach allows to show the existence of the influence of the social norm and to disentangle it from any (anticipated) productivity effects associated with deviations from a clinically recommended BMI in certain sections of the weight distribution. Estimates of between-effects models for 9 European countries for the years 1998 to 2001 suggest that the influence of the social norm varies considerably between countries, and wage penalties are rather found for upward deviations from the norm and for men.

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