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Weight-Based Discrimination at Work

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Genevieve Pham-Kanter
University of Colorado, Denver
Home page: Link

Sample size: 2500
Field period: 5/10/2010-11/3/2010



1. Is there discrimination against overweight workers in bonus allocations?
2. Is there discrimination against overweight workers in promotion decisions?
3. Are overweight workers additionally penalized when they perform less well than other workers?
4. Do women experience greater weight penalties than men?

Experimental Manipulations:

1. Apparent weight status of worker
2. Gender of worker
3. Performance rating of worker

Key Dependent Variables:

1. Bonus allocations
2. Promotion probabilities

Summary of Findings:

In this study, I look at whether individuals treat overweight workers differently from slender workers in compensation decisions. I find that, conditional on having the same average performance ratings, overweight workers are allocated 5% less in bonuses and are 2 percentage points less likely to be recommended for promotions. In contrast to previous research, I find that men and women are equally penalized for being overweight.

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