Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2019

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

Terra McKinnish

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


This paper examines the effect of body mass index (BMI) on annual earnings using an individual fixed effects approach to control for time-invariant endogeneity. Heterogeneous effects of BMI on earnings are also explored for different races and education levels. This research also conducts a preliminary investigation into relationship between BMI and job mobility as a potential mechanism mediating the effect of BMI on earnings. My findings show that white women incur a 4% annual earnings penalty per one-point increase in BMI. Overall, black and Hispanic women are insulated from this penalty. Both of these findings are relatively consistent with previous literature. However, black women with a college degree incur an annual earnings penalty of nearly 6% per point increase in BMI, a novel finding that complicates general statements about the effect of BMI on earnings for different races. The effect of BMI on men’s earnings was either nonexistent or weakly positive. BMI does have a small, negative impact on job mobility for men, but not for women.