Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science


Epidemiology and Biostatistics


Dr. Sisira Sarma


Background: The direct medical care costs attributable to obesity are well-known, but little is known about the indirect costs of obesity. In particular, less is known about the impact of obesity on employment participation and earnings, especially among women in Canada.

Objectives: The objectives of this study are to examine the association between obesity and employment participation and earnings, if employed, among Canadian women.

Methods: Data were taken from the last six cycles of the National Population Health Survey from 2000/01-2010/11 longitudinal cohort data from women aged 18-53 years. The association between obesity and labour market participation was analyzed using pooled, random-effects and fixed-effects regression modeling techniques. The association between obesity and earnings (wage and income) was analyzed using pooled, truncated random-effects and truncated fixed-effects regression models.

Results: Wage rate and annual income were found to be negatively associated with obesity. The negative association persisted between obesity and annual income even after accounting for individual-specific effects in the regression analysis. The effect of obesity on employment participation was not significant once health and lifestyle variables were controlled for.

Conclusions: This longitudinal analysis of Canadian women demonstrated that obesity has a negative effect on earnings and this effect remains statistically significant even after controlling for individual-specific heterogeneity.

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