The Skinny on Success: Body Mass, Gender and Occupational Standing Across the Life Course


Several studies have analyzed the impact of obesity on occupational standing. This study extends previous research by estimating the influence of body mass on occupational attainment over three decades of the career using data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study. In a series of covariance structure analyses, we considered three mechanisms that may alter the career trajectories of heavy individuals: (1. employment-based discrimination, (2. educational attainment, and (3. marriage market processes. Unlike previous studies, we found limited evidence that employment-based discrimination impaired the career trajectories of either men or women. Instead, we found that heavy women received less post-secondary schooling than their thinner peers, which in turn adversely affected their occupational standing at each point in their careers.