Obesity and Marriage Prospects: Is There Evidence of a Discriminatory Marriage Market?

Hanna Grol-Prokopczyk, University of Wisconsin at Madison

Data from the 1957-2004 Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS) confirm previous findings that obese women are less likely to marry than their lighter peers. This finding applies across the lifecourse, even at later ages; e.g., obese unmarried women in their early fifties are substantially less likely to marry by their mid-sixties than are women with lower body mass indexes (BMIs), even when controlling for level of education, personal income, and occupational prestige. To assess whether this constitutes evidence of a discriminatory ("size-ist") marriage market, I analyze whether other explanatory variables—-such as personality, sociability, intelligence, depression, health, or smoking behavior—-could explain this association. The rich longitudinal data of the WLS allows me to carefully construct causal chains.

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Presented in Poster Session 2: Family, Households, Unions; Data, Methods, Study Design