Jay Bhattacharya


Department of Medicine, Stanford University

Current member of the NLSTechnical Review Committee

NLS user since 1996

  • Bhattacharya J and Bundorf K, “The Incidence of the Healthcare Costs of Obesity” Journal of Health Economics 28(3):649-658 (2009)
  • Bhattacharya J and Sood N, “Who Pays for Obesity?” Journal of Economic Perspectives 25(1):139-58 (2011)
  • Bhattacharya J and Sood N, “Health Insurance and the Obesity Externality” Advances In Health Economics And Health Services Research 17:279-318 (2007).
  • Lakdawalla D, Philipson T, Bhattacharya J, “Welfare-Enhancing Technological Change and the Growth of Obesity,” American Economics Review (Papers and Proceedings) 95(2): 253-257 (2005).
  • Bhattacharya J, Bundorf MK, Pace N, and Sood N “Does Health Insurance Make You Fat?” in Economic Aspects of Obesity Michael Grossman and Naci Mocan (eds.), Chicago, IL, University of Chicago Press (2010)
What I learned from NLS data

Using NLS data, my colleagues and I have studied wage discrimination against obese workers. We have confirmed that obese workers do face lower wages than thinner workers, but that much of this difference is due to the higher health expenditures of obese workers. Surprisingly, in jobs without health insurance, obese and thinner workers earn the same wages on average, which suggests that employer-provided health insurance plays a key role in wage outcomes for obese workers.

Why I chose NLS data

The NLSY79 cohort is unique in the richness of employment information and key health status indicators like obesity. It allows us to track a large national sample over many years, and observe how changes in body weight track with changes in employment outcomes like wages and employer health insurance provision.